Unmanned Systems Technology 038 l Skyeton Raybird-3 l Data storage l Sea-Kit X-Class USV l USVs insight l Spectronik PEM fuel cells l Blue White Robotics UVIO l Antennas l AUVSI Xponential Virtual 2021 report

22 U krainian company Skyeton was founded in 2006 as a designer and manufacturer of light sport aircraft. As part of this work it has studied accidents involving them, and has realised that the primary cause is human error, convincing the company that autonomous aircraft are the way forward. That, and a slump in the market for small aircraft brought about by stricter licencing regulations and wider access to virtual flight simulators for recreational pilots, motivated Skyeton to begin researching unmanned vehicles and their associated technologies. In 2014 it therefore began developing its first prototype UAV. That has resulted in the Raybird-3, a 23 kg fixed-wing, gasoline-powered UAV with a 2.96 m wingspan and a payload capacity of up to 5 kg, engineered primarily for surveillance and inspection missions. “Fulfilling applications such as search & rescue missions, mapping and monitoring wildfires, were the most common reasons customers had bought our small manned aircraft in the past, so it was logical for us to develop UAVs for similar kinds of markets,” recounts Skyeton’s founder and CEO, Alexander Stepura. “By the mid-2010s, we’d gained plenty of experience of working with components common to manned and unmanned systems, such as autopilots, high-end microprocessors and expensive payload sensors. As we studied the range of technologies available, and how they were evolving, we became certain that making UAVs smaller, not bigger, was the way to go. Designing as much functionality, survey capability and flight time as we could into a tight aircraft package weighing no more than 25 kg became our goal from early on.” Stepura and his team also soon found that the most urgent requirements for aerial inspections (such as over forests, coasts, disaster zones and borders) came from government agencies needing to locate hard-to-find objects such as signs of people or damage, across very large territories. Spotting a need for small, long-endurance UAVs for surveying large areas of land or sea was the impetus for developing this aircraft, as Rory Jackson explains Going the June/July 2021 | Unmanned Systems Technology