Issue 53 Uncrewed Systems Technology Dec/Jan 2024 AALTO Zephyr 8 l RTOS focus l GPA Seabots SB 100 l Defence insight l INNengine Rex-B l DroneX 2023 show report l Thermal imaging focus l DSEI 2023 show report l Skyline Robotics Ozmo

Read all back issues online UST 53 : DEC/JAN 2024 UK £15, USA $30, EUROPE €22 High concept How the Zephyr solar-powered UAV aims to provide commercial services from the stratosphere Conscious uncoupling The advantages of separating real-time operating systems into kernels Heat waves The latest in multi-spectral thermal imaging systems

When Made in America is required. Leading producer of electromechanical actuators. Ruggedized Militarized Smart Scan to view technical data

3 December/January 2024 | Contents Uncrewed Systems Technology | December/January 2024 24 20 46 62 108 04 Intro An accident involving a robotaxi and a roll-out of full Level 3 autonomous driving show how car developers are converging 06 Platform one: Mission-critical info Fox Robotics has teamed up with academia to trial a UGV for a range of farm tasks, German researchers are developing an eVTOL with gliding capabilities, quantum computing enters the picture for controlling UAVs in airspace, and much more 20 In conversation: Dr Bryan Cole The head of uncrewed systems research at US environmental science agency NOAA makes his case for using more UASs 24 Dossier: AALTO Zephyr 8 How this latest version of the solar-powered stratospheric UAV is being developed to provide services such as low-latency comms and Earth observation for months at a time 46 Focus: Real-time operating systems Larger real-time RTOS systems are being deployed in uncrewed systems of growing complexity, so developers are turning away from traditional hypervisors to using separation kernels 54 Digest: GPA Seabots 100 Harbours are host to a soup of ecological threats such as litter and chemical spills, a growing concern that this autonomous USV has been designed to address 62 Insight: Defence Uncrewed military systems developers continue to adapt to the changing nature of military conflicts, as these systems prove 72 Dossier: INNengine Rex-B Prototypes of this cam-operated two-stroke axial unit for use with UAVs are showing considerable potential 82 Show report: DroneX 2023 Highlights of new services, aircraft designs, propulsion systems and avionics that were on display at this trade show 88 Focus: Thermal imaging Thermal sensors play a critical role in almost every uncrewed system mission, and now they are expected to form part of a multi-sensor gimbal, leading to a series of fresh developments 98 Show report: DSEI 2023 Capability and intelligence came across as the prime movers behind the defence-focused products on display at this show 108 In operation: Skyline Robotics Ozmo Cleaning the windows of high-rise buildings is dull, dirty and dangerous, so this uncrewed system is taking over from people 114 PS: AI in uncrewed system comms AI is providing a raft of benefits to uncrewed system comms, prime examples of which we investigate here

ELECTRIC, HYBRID & INTERNAL COMBUSTION for PERFORMANCE ISSUE 149 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2023 When Formula One was fun Racing in the Sixties Heavy Goods Racer redefined Bizarre electric competition lorry Hemi in epic new FX attack Geoff Turk’s latest Dodge race V8 UK £15, US/CN $25, EUROPE e22 THE COMMUNICATIONS HUB OF THE ELECTRIFIED POWERTRAIN Unpacked and unbound Inside Xerotech’s heavy-duty batteries Read all back issues and exclusive online-only content at Sine language Decision support Creating the perfect sine wave for motor control Expert advice on when to use axial flux motors ISSUE 022 | NOV/DEC 2023 UK £15 USA $30 EUROPE €22 4 December/January 2024 | Uncrewed Systems Technology Intro | December/January 2024 Autonomous vehicle company Cruise has recently recalled all its robotaxi vehicles in San Francisco after an accident, and updated them with new software. The millions of miles of testing that Cruise (and Waymo) have carried out still couldn’t cope with this very specific accident scenario, where a hit and run by human driver threw a pedestrian into the path of a Cruise taxi. The vehicle kept moving to get out of the way, as problems had been caused in the past by them remaining still. Meanwhile, Mercedes and BMW are rolling out full Level 3 autonomous driving on motorways across Europe and the US. The systems allow users to take their hands off the wheel for extended periods. The systems are similar in the speed – the L3 systems currently operate below 60 kph (40 mph), typically the same speed as the robotaxis. But they indicate the convergence of highly dissimilar development techniques. Robotaxis have essentially mastered the complexities of driverless operation in cities, while the L3 systems are demonstrating their functional safety on faster roads before moving to L4 and higher speeds. This comes as the AI algorithms, software and sensor technology improves, as we show in Platform One on page 6 and the RTOS focus on page 46. Nick Flaherty | Technology Editor No, we’re not there yet Read all back issues online UST 53 : DEC/JAN 2024 UK £15, USA $30, EUROPE €22 High concept How the Zephyr solar-powered UAV aims to provide commercial services from the stratosphere Conscious uncoupling The advantages of separating real-time operating systems into kernels Heat waves The latest in multi-spectral thermal imaging systems Editorial Director Ian Bamsey Deputy Editor Rory Jackson Technology Editor Nick Flaherty Production Editor Guy Richards Contributor Peter Donaldson Technical Consultants Paul Weighell Ian Williams-Wynn Dr Donough Wilson Prof James Scanlan Dr David Barrett Design Andrew Metcalfe UST Ad Sales Please direct all enquiries to Simon Moss Subscriptions Frankie Robins Publishing Director Simon Moss General Manager Chris Perry The USE network Having now provided several enterprises around the world with the support and connections they need to implement efficient and sustainable technological solutions, we’re keen to continue expanding this free service. If the uncrewed vehicle and/or system you’re working on could benefit from some independent advice, from engineers specialising in the appropriate field, then please do get in touch. Email your question/challenge/dilemma/predicament to or visit and raise a case with us. All questions will be treated in the strictest confidence, and there’s no obligation whatsoever to follow any recommendations made. Volume Ten | Issue One December/January 2024 High Power Media Limited Whitfield House, Cheddar Road, Wedmore, Somerset, BS28 4EJ, England Tel: +44 1934 713957 ISSN 2753-6513 Printed in Great Britain ©High Power Media All rights reserved. Reproduction (in whole or in part) of any article or illustration without the written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. While care is taken to ensure the accuracy of information herein, the publisher can accept no liability for errors or omissions. Nor can responsibility be accepted for the content of any advertisement. SUBSCRIPTIONS Subscriptions are available from High Power Media at the address above or directly from our website. Overseas copies are sent via air mail. 1 year subscription – 15% discount: UK – £75; Europe – £90 USA – £93.75; ROW – £97.50 2 year subscription – 25% discount: UK – £135; Europe – £162 USA – £168.75; ROW – £175.50 Make cheques payable to High Power Media. Visa, Mastercard, Amex and UK Maestro accepted. Quote card number and expiry date (also issue/start date for Maestro) ALSO FROM HPM

UXV Technologies Inc A breakthrough in robotic control THE BRAND NEW SRoC SRM compatible Ruggedized 25 different inputs The SRoC is a standardized product built for defence robotics. It offers high communication flexibility by interfacing through our new Swappable Radio Modules (SRM) and/or the Nett Warrior connector. UXV Technologies, Inc. Contact us

6 December/January 2024 | Uncrewed Systems Technology Mission-critical info for uncrewed systems professionals Platform one Three farms in the UK are testing autonomous robot technology for carrying out various tasks (writes Nick Flaherty). Fox Robotics is working with the University of Surrey and the AgriEPI Centre to use the Hugo all-terrain robot system on three farms in Scotland and parts of the east and south-east of England. The FlexBot project aims to add significant robot vision and machine learning (ML) capabilities developed at the university to boost the Hugo’s navigation capabilities. While the Hugo was designed for autonomous navigation around farms, it can also be used for husbandry, harvesting fruit and flowers, and other agricultural applications. It can be adapted to other tasks as well, from mowing grass, transporting soil and handling delicate seedlings, to transporting harvested produce. The core objective of the project is to enhance the robustness of the Hugo’s navigation system, ensuring that it can operate autonomously in complex farm environments. This will make it suitable for autonomous operations beyond traditional farm settings. The project will use the image data from the three farms to train the ML system to cope with more complex situations. The initial focus is on scalability, productivity and profitability of English fruit farms, which are struggling to find seasonal workers. The navigation system is based on Bird’s Eye View maps and enables the Hugo to autonomously navigate outdoor environments, including fruit farms. The project will also see the development of add-on units such as robotic arms that can be used as a collaborative robot, or cobot, with workers. Picking robots are still some way from being commercially ready, but robotic platforms that can move fruit and crates around a site will allow pickers to keep picking rather than spending time taking the fruit to a central weighing location. Ground vehicles Autonomous farm hand The Hugo farm robot is being used in the FlexBot project

7 Platform one Uncrewed Systems Technology | December/January 2024 A new I/O standard is being developed for small UAVs (writes Nick Flaherty). The VNX+ standard is designed to fit into UAVs that can be launched from 5 in-diameter tubes and for CubeSats destined for orbit. It is going through the VITA standards process as VITA90 for release early next year, which would allow small modules with processors, GPUs, FPGAs, switches, sensors and RF to link together over a 110 GHz backplane, which could be optical. The standard has more pins on a tighter pitch than VPX VITA46, which is now 16 years old, and has a lower thermal budget of 25 W per slot. It follows the adoption of the SOSA 2 protocol at the end of last year. A sub-group of VNX+, called QMC, is developing a specification to extend the interface lines. This could be used to add extra I/O or for protocols such as 1553, CAN or video. Snapshot 2 of VNX+ went to VITA members at the end of October 2023 and is now heading for review for release, said Mark Littlefield, director of system products at Elma Electronics, who is also chair of the QMC working group. He expects the first VNX+ products before the end of the year. “Organisations are just developing their first products and projects to the standard,” he said. “We can expect those first-generation products to be announced and shipping before the end of the year, which means the first integration projects using those components will be well underway in late 2023 to early 2024. “If components of the various major groups – boards, switches, radios/ receivers, FPGA processors, GPU/video processing, and backplanes – are all launched or announced by mid-2024 then we can expect relatively healthy adoption through the 2024-25 period. By 2025, early projects should be heading towards full production,” he said. “There is an expectation that VNX+ plug-in cards will be ‘affordable’, more so than VPX. This is a reasonable expectation because the VNX+ power densities [usually less than 25 W per slot] means lower performance, and therefore less expensive components will be used. There is also an expectation of higher volumes for VNX+. “The power densities we are expecting are based on initial thermal models. There is still a lot of work to do here in modelling and the design of thermal structures within the VNX+ plug-in cards, as well as enclosures and chassis.” A VITA 93 small form factor mezzanine is also being developed that is much smaller than XMC, with host and I/O interface connectors that will work with VNX+. The host interface supports modern highspeed serial fabrics, and the I/O interface supports front-panel or backplane I/O. There is also a version planned for space systems, VITA90.5 or SpaceVNX+. Airborne vehicles New small UAVs standard The VITA90 VNX+ standard for small UAVs and CubeSat designs

8 A network of German research labs is developing a UAV that combines an eVTOL with a glider (writes Nick Flaherty). The Albacopter project, led by Fraunhofer IVI, is an airborne experimental platform for testing and demonstrating flights that combines the VTOL capabilities of multi-copters with the aerodynamic advantages of gliders to extend the operating range. The €8 million project includes researchers from six Fraunhofer institutes working across mobility, materials science, energy and propulsion engineering and mechatronics, as well as sensor, communication and automation technologies, machine learning and production engineering. Two Songbird 150 UAVs from manufacturer Germandrones were bought as part of the project to test and validate innovative attitude control systems, autopilots, sensors and energy management systems. The VTOLcapable aircraft has a wingspan of 3 m and can carry a payload of up to 4 kg. A Lidar photo detector developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems is being used in the project that can detect individual photons of light. The project is specifically designed to replace sensors with newer generations of technology. The project is also developing a novel drive system with higher performance than direct-drive systems. It uses a highspeed synchronous machine combined with a multi-level spur gear unit. “We are in the end stages of the conceptual phase and will soon begin building the drive unit,” said Dr Lars Fredrik Berg, project manager for energy storage systems and drive engineering at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology. “In addition to developing the drive, the researchers are also designing a stand for testing the eVTOL drive systems to up to 450 kW.” Airborne vehicles eVTOL-glider UAV plan Platform one December/January 2024 | Uncrewed Systems Technology The motor system proposed for the Albacopter project

AM Series: Ruggedized Servo Cylinder +1-631-298-9179 Cutchogue, New York, USA A1 Series: Standard Servo Cylinder A2 Series: Industrial Servo Cylinder AU Series: Subsea Servo Cylinder BLDC control electronics and High Performance Linear Servo Actuator Lightweight, high power density contactless absolute feedback built-in Control via CAN, RS-422 serial, digital signals, and more Ideal for harsh shock and vibration environments in the aerospace and defense industries Swashplates, UAV control surfaces, thrust vector control (TVC), UGV brakes / transmissions, etc. Precise heading < 6-cm real-time accuracy Supporting SDK software Out-of-the-box operation OEM and Housed versions Plug and play with unmatched precision. Tallysman® HCS885XF Smart Helical Antenna

10 Researchers in Japan have developed a battery-less tag to guide UAVs in all weather conditions (writes Nick Flaherty). The MilliSign uses millimetre-wave (mmWave) radio signals from the bottom of a UAV to provide accurate positioning data from a battery-free tag on the ground. The key is that this operates in all weathers, when camera-based location systems struggle to provide accurate data. The researchers see this being used as a passive ground station for delivery UAVs to land safely. Conventional battery-less guidance systems using visual signs fail to work in poor weather because of low visibility. The need for all-weather operations with long-range readability therefore encourages the use of mmWave radar, which poses challenges in providing a Modifying the shape of its structures and arranging them like barcodes boosts the detection range and the number of bits that can be read from the tag. The design is based on a corner reflector (CR) array with a one-shot slant range-reading procedure with COTS mmWave radar. The shape of the CR units and their alignment decreases the tag’s size and expands the 3D reading range. The team also designed a signal processing pipeline that can automatically detect the position of a tag even in a noisy environment, by clustering a point cloud containing the reflection intensity information. This allows the tag to be detected and read with high accuracy, even in situations where a UAV is surrounded by obstacles such as walls, cars, and stairs, and allows automated tag detection to provide its landing location. Airborne vehicles All-weather tag guidance wide 3D reading range and low-cost operation. The researchers, at NTT and the University of Tokyo, designed a new type of RFID tag that measures 292 x 600 x 19 mm and stores 8 bits of data. The tag can be read by mmWave radar at frequencies from 30 to 300 GHz from a distance of more than 10 m and with a viewing angle of more than 30o in elevation and azimuth – nearly eight times that of conventional tags. The design means performance remains stable when visibility is poor and in multipath-rich environments. In conventional RFID, the radio wave reflection range is narrow as it uses a planar antenna, so the range that can be read from the air is limited. The new tag uses a more angular antenna, called a corner reflector, that has 3D reflectivity. December/January 2024 | Uncrewed Systems Technology The components for millimetre-wave detection

T-Motor THE SAFER PROPULSION SYSTEM INDUSTRY-LEVEL PROPULSION SYSTEM CAN Function UART-TTL data feedback protocol IP67 function ELECTRIC PROPELLER Platform one Anduril Industries has enhanced its Ghost UAV platform with a new mechanism to vary the position of payloads (writes Nick Flaherty). The Ghost-X incorporates operational feedback from over 1000 Ghost flight hours with a wide range of customers, including the UK’s Ministry of Defence, and across environments including combat operations. It has a flexible design that is based around a rail that allows different payloads and an additional battery pack for the propulsion systems to be installed quickly and easily. The dual battery configuration extends the flight time to 75 minutes and doubles the Ghost’s total payload capacity to 9 kg. It also extends the operational range to up to 25 km, and there is an optional long-range comms kit for these longer missions, with automatic frequency switching for hostile radio environments. The batteries slide onto the rail to allow space for the new payloads, which include EO and IR gimbals, encoded laser options and a vision-based navigation module for flight capability without reference to GNSS. The system uses Anduril’s Lattice software platform to automate mission planning, airspace management and flight operations to reduce the cognitive load and training burden for operators. Airborne vehicles UAV payloads on rails The moveable battery packs on the Ghost-X

12 Platform one Sony Semiconductor Solutions has developed an image sensor with over 17 MP for emerging automated driving cameras (writes Nick Flaherty). The IMX735 has 17.42 effective megapixels and a 13.70 mm diagonal with a horizontal pixel read-out to more easily synchronise with Lidar systems. For automated systems to deliver automated driving, they need to offer sophisticated, high-precision sensing and recognition performance. This is driving demand for image sensors with high-definition capture of far-off objects allowing better detection of road conditions, vehicles, pedestrians and other objects. With typical CMOS image sensors the read-out signals are output from pixels one vertical line at a time, while the Sony sensor outputs signals horizontally, again one row at a time. That is why automotive cameras using this sensor can more easily synchronise with mechanical illuminance, yielding a dynamic range of 106 dB even when simultaneously using HDR and LED flicker mitigation; in dynamic range priority mode the range is 130 dB. The design also helps reduce motion artefacts generated when capturing moving subjects. The sensor also has camera authentication via a public-key algorithm to confirm CMOS image sensor authenticity, image authentication to detect any tampering with acquired images, and communication authentication to detect any tampering with the control comms. It has an MIPI CSI-2 serial output and is packaged in a 236-pin plastic BGA measuring 14.54 x 17.34 mm. The sensor is qualified for AEC-Q100 Grade 2 automotive electronic component reliability tests for mass production, and includes a development process compliant with the ISO 26262 road vehicle functional safety standard, at automotive safety integrity level ASIL-B. Driverless cars High-pixel cars sensor scanning Lidar, since their laser beams also scan horizontally. This better synchronisation will improve the sensing and recognition capabilities of an automated driving system as a whole. The new pixel structure provides improved saturation illuminance by using a new exposure method that provides a wide dynamic range, of 106 dB, even when simultaneously using high dynamic range (HDR) imaging and LED flicker mitigation. The dynamic range is higher, at 130 dB, when using dynamic range priority mode. This helps suppress image wash-out in backlit conditions, enabling more precise object capture in road environments with major differences in brightness, such as tunnel entrances and exits. Automotive cameras are also required to suppress LED flicker, even in HDR mode, to deal with the increasing prevalence of LED signals and other traffic devices. The proprietary pixel structure and unique exposure method of the sensor improves saturation December/January 2024 | Uncrewed Systems Technology A change in scanning direction supports both camera and Lidar sensing

Exalos has developed superluminescent LED (SLED) modules that are less sensitive to wavelength shifts induced by temperature or ageing, for more accurate and reliable inertial navigation systems (writes Nick Flaherty). A key application for SLEDs is in navigation systems, such as avionics, aerospace, sea, terrestrial and subsurface, that use fibre optic gyroscopes (FOGs) to make precise rotation measurements. FOGs measure the phase shift of optical radiation propagating along a fibre optic coil when it rotates around the winding axis. The new generation of SLED modules use frequencies from 400 to 1700 nm to improve their wavelength stability by a factor of four compared with conventional devices. They are packaged in cooled 14-pin dual inline and Butterfly packages, cooled and uncooled five-pin Butterfly packages and low-cost uncooled TOSA and TO-56 packages. The basic components of a FOG are a light source, a singlemode fibre coil, an optical coupler, a modulator and a detector. Light from the source is fed into the fibre in counter-propagating directions using the coupler. When the fibre coil is at rest, the two light waves interfere constructively at the detector, and a maximum signal is produced at the modulator. When the coil rotates, the waves take different optical path lengths that depend on the rate of rotation. The phase difference between the waves varies the intensity at the detector and provides information on the rate of rotation. SLED-based gyroscopes rely on the wide bandwidth of the source to reduce both the large Kerr-induced drift and the high coherent backscattering noise along the fibre. Navigation SLEDS add stability Using a superluminescent LED in a fibre optic gyroscope +1 (503) 434-6845 | Supporting The War Fighter Since 2005 with Aviation Grade Propulsion Systems Northwest UAV AVIATIONGRADE AMERICAN MADE NW-230 Heavy-Fuel Engine NW-44 FUEL INJECTED HEAVY-FUEL ENGINE 34-68 Kg UAS 18-34 Kg UAS NW-88 TWIN-CYLINDER HEAVY-FUEL ENGINE  DEFENSE CONTRACT AUDIT AGENCY  COMPLIANT VISIT US AT Designed for Group III Unmanned Aircraft in the 90-160 kg range. With an emphasis on high TBO, minimal maintenance cycles and high endurance with minimal fuel burn. • MADE IN THE USA • Purpose-built for Heavy-Fuel APRIL 22-25, 2024 Booth #4437 APRIL 8-10, 2024 Booth #3317

14 Platform one Researchers in the US and France are using quantum computing to tackle the computational challenges associated with flight path optimisation (writes Nick Flaherty). Quantum computers can help algorithms find new ways to manage complex data such as airspace management. But to effectively apply quantum algorithms in real-world scenarios, it is crucial to thoroughly examine and tackle the intrinsic overheads and constraints in the present implementations of these algorithms. A study at the University of Texas is exploring the application of quantum computers in flight path optimisation problems, and is working on a customisable modular framework designed to accommodate specific simulation requirements. The hybrid quantum-classical algorithm for the optimisation is being tested across various quantum architectures at IBM. This is a key step in optimising uncrewed traffic management (UTM) systems to control UAVs in airspace. This flight optimisation is a multi-variable problem with numerous constraints, such as fuel consumption, flight time, aircraft weight and air traffic control restrictions. The intricacy of the problem stems from the many interconnected variables, which is a challenge for traditional optimisation techniques, as the huge solution space makes finding the optimal solution very time-consuming. Aircraft also operate in rapidly changing conditions – fluctuations in the wind, air traffic control restrictions and equipment failures, for example – which create a dynamic and uncertain environment. These complexities mean accurate models and algorithms have to be developed that can adapt and respond in real time. As the aircraft must decide its be integrated more easily with existing technology and infrastructure than the other technologies. Superconducting qubits have shorter operating times, but they can be sensitive to various types of noise, leading to higher error rates and the need for more advanced error-correction techniques. However, the advantages of neutral atoms and ion traps, such as scalability, long coherence times, and high-fidelity operations, cannot be overlooked, say the researchers. At the same time, a French quantum computer company called Pasqal that uses neutral atoms is working on ways to optimise low-altitude air traffic in Japan. Sumitomo is using the Pasqal quantum computer for a project called Quantum Sky, a quantum demonstration of a future 3D traffic control system to allow UAVs to fly safely. There are currently 170 cities, regions and states in 55 countries around the world developing plans for UTM systems. In the US, there are 46 city/regional programmes underway; 20 in Germany, 15 in China and 13 in Brazil. Airborne vehicles UTM study goes quantum flight path and operating conditions while airborne, flight optimisation requires high computational power and fast algorithms capable of handling large amounts of data and providing solutions within a short time frame. The researchers tested a quantum version of the established Dijkstra algorithm on nine routes, divided into three groups – short domestic flights, long domestic flights and long international flights – using three quantum computing technologies: neutral atoms, ion traps and superconducting qubits. The results showed that quantum computers with neutral atoms and ion traps have similar gate operation times, both of which are much slower than superconducting qubits. This makes the superconducting quantum systems more suitable for executing quantum algorithms requiring fast gate operations to minimise error accumulation. Superconducting qubits are being built with existing semiconductor manufacturing techniques by companies such as IBM, Intel and Honeywell, and can December/January 2024 | Uncrewed Systems Technology One of IBM’s quantum computers is being used for uncrewed traffic management algorithms

Fiberpro USA Your Navigation Partner For Additional Information, Visit www.fiberpro. com Fiber Optic Gyroscope FG 150 FOG Inertial Measurement Unit FI 200C / FI 200P (ITAR FREE) Inertial Navigation System FN 210 FIBERPRO Fiber Optic Gyroscope since 1995

Dr Donough Wilson Dr Wilson is innovation lead at aviation, defence, and homeland security innovation consultants, VIVID/ futureVision. His defence innovations include the cockpit vision system that protects military aircrew from asymmetric high-energy laser attack. He was first to propose the automatic tracking and satellite download of airliner black box and cockpit voice recorder data in the event of an airliner’s unplanned excursion from its assigned flight level or track. For his ‘outstanding and practical contribution to the safer operation of aircraft’ he was awarded The Sir James Martin Award 2018/19, by the Honourable Company of Air Pilots. Paul Weighell Paul has been involved with electronics, computer design and programming since 1966. He has worked in the realtime and failsafe data acquisition and automation industry using mainframes, minis, micros and cloud-based hardware on applications as diverse as defence, Siberian gas pipeline control, UK nuclear power, robotics, the Thames Barrier, Formula One and automated financial trading systems. Ian Williams-Wynn Ian has been involved with uncrewed and autonomous systems for more than 20 years. He started his career in the military, working with early prototype uncrewed systems and exploiting imagery from a range of systems from global suppliers. He has also been involved in ground-breaking research including novel power and propulsion systems, sensor technologies, communications, avionics and physical platforms. His experience covers a broad spectrum of domains from space, air, maritime and ground, and in both defence and civil applications including, more recently, connected autonomous cars. Professor James Scanlan Professor Scanlan is the director of the Strategic Research Centre in Autonomous Systems at the University of Southampton, in the UK. He also co-directs the Rolls-Royce University Technical Centre in design at Southampton. He has an interest in design research, and in particular how complex systems (especially aerospace systems) can be optimised. More recently, he established a group at Southampton that undertakes research into uncrewed aircraft systems. He produced the world’s first ‘printed aircraft’, the SULSA, which was flown by the Royal Navy in the Antarctic in 2016. He also led the team that developed the ULTRA platform, the largest UK commercial UAV, which has flown BVLOS extensively in the UK. He is a qualified full-size aircraft pilot and also has UAV flight qualifications. Dr David Barrett Dr David Barrett’s career includes senior positions with companies such as iRobot and Walt Disney Imagineering. He has also held posts with research institutions including the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, MIT and Olin College, where he is now Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics, and Principal Investigator for the Olin Intelligent Vehicle Laboratory. He also serves in an advisory capacity on the boards of several robotics companies. Uncrewed Systems Technology’s consultants 16 MARSS is developing a portable version of its UAS countermeasures aircraft (writes Nick Flaherty). The MARSS Interceptor, unveiled last year and currently under development, is an AI-enabled autonomous UAV alternative to short-range missiles to neutralise hostile UAVs. The Interceptor-SR (Short Range) version is designed to be launched from a 5 in-diameter tube to neutralise CAT1 drones at a range of 1 km. The electric UAV is inherently safe, as no explosives or jet fuel is required, and it uses the ground-based MARSS Nidar C2 radar and sensor system and an onboard thermal image sensor to hone in on, and crash into, a target UAV using kinetic energy rather than an explosive payload. The closed-loop thermal sensor works at a range of up to about 100 m, said Stephen Scott, head of r&d for defence at MARSS. The 5 in diameter presented a key design challenge for the motors, propellers and the battery pack needed to get the 8 kg craft up to a speed of 60 m/s. The avionics control system will be off the shelf with custom-designed motors and folding wings, as well as propellers that allow the UAS to be fired from the launcher tube. Its battery provides 2 kW to the motors, giving a mission time of about 30 seconds. Depending on the time to interception and the impact, the Interceptor might be able to return to its launch site, but it is more likely to be disposable, which is driving the vehicle’s design choices. Airborne vehicles Portable UAV killer December/January 2024 | Uncrewed Systems Technology The Interceptor-SR is designed to be fired from a 5 in tube launcher

Platform one Sierra Space has completed a key step in its preparations for the launch of its Dream Chaser uncrewed spaceplane (writes Nick Flaherty). The first mission Flight Operations Review at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre has been successful, marking a milestone in preparation for the Dream Chaser’s inaugural mission to the heavy-lift launch vehicle. An expendable cargo module can be attached to the back of the Dream Chaser, expanding its cargo capacity to 5000 kg in the pressurised compartment, and 500 kg in an unpressurised one. It can also carry 1750 kg of cargo inside the craft when returning to Earth. The first launch of the system is expected in April next year. Space systems ISS craft nears launch International Space Station (ISS). Under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract, NASA has chosen the Dream Chaser to provide cargo delivery, return and disposal services for the ISS for at least seven missions. The craft, which is 9 m long, has wings to allow it to return to a runway. Its wings fit within a 5 m- diameter payload fairing of a Vulcan Tired of generic job boards and speculative CVs? Why sift through irrelevant CVs when a laser focused recruitment portal can deliver quality over quantity? Contact for more information on our 1x, 5x, 10x & unlimited job packages. The Dream Chaser has passed a key check for operations in space

18 Platform one Uncrewed Systems Technology diary December/January 2024 | Uncrewed Systems Technology 2024 CES Tuesday 9 January – Friday 12 January Las Vegas, USA UMEX Monday 22 January – Thursday 25 January Abu Dhabi, UAE Geo Week Sunday February 11 – Tuesday February 13 Denver, USA UVS-Oman Monday 12 February Muscat, Oman Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Summit Tuesday February 27 – Wednesday February 28 San Diego, USA unmanned-aerial-vehicles-summit Drones & Uncrewed Asia Wednesday 6 March – Thursday 7 March Singapore Geo Connect Asia Wednesday 6 March – Thursday 7 March Singapore Space-Comm Expo Wednesday 6 March – Thursday 7 March Farnborough, UK Paris Space Week Tuesday 12 March – Wednesday 13 March Paris, France Oceanology International Tuesday 12 March – Thursday 14 March London, UK Emerging & Disruptive Technologies for Defence Tuesday 19 March – Wednesday 20 March Washington, USA Image Sensors Europe Wednesday 20 March – Thursday 21 March London, UK Next Generation Combat Vehicles Conference Thursday 21 March – Friday 22 March Arlington, USA next-generation-combat-vehicles Military Robotics & Autonomous Systems Monday 8 April – Wednesday 10 April London, UK robotic-autonomous-systems Sea Air Space Monday 8 April – Wednesday 10 April National Harbour, USA UDT Tuesday 9 April – Thursday 11 April London, UK XPONENTIAL Monday 22 April – Thursday 25 April San Diego, USA Mobility Live Middle East Tuesday 30 April – Wednesday 1 May Abu Dhabi, UAE Uncrewed Maritime Systems Technology Wednesday 8 May – Thursday 9 May London, UK Unmanned-Maritime-Systems Future Mobility Asia Wednesday 15 May – Friday 17 May Bangkok, Thailand

National Congress on Counter UAS Technology Tuesday 21 May – Wednesday 22 May Washington, USA Japan Drone Wednesday 5 June – Friday 7 June Chiba, Japan Eurosatory Monday 17 June – Friday 21 June Paris, France MOVE Wednesday 19 June – Thursday 20 June London, UK Drone International Expo Thursday 4 July – Friday 5 July New Delhi, India Farnborough International Airshow Monday 22 July – Friday 26 July Farnborough, UK Commercial UAV Expo Americas Tuesday 3 September – Thursday 5 September Las Vegas, USA 19 Uncrewed Systems Technology | December/January 2024 Geo Week has established itself as the premiere event for geospatial technologies and services in North America, its show floor encompassing the latest innovations and case studies across airborne, terrestrial and 3D mapping technologies. The latest outing for the show is set to take place from February 11 to 13, 2024 in Denver. Hosted in the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center, it is expected to feature more than 200 exhibiting companies and thousands of attendees to discuss the most advanced solutions and approaches to geospatial survey and analysis, across environments such as urban, infrastructural and agricultural zones, as well as natural environments such as forests, rivers and coasts. Expo showcases and conference sessions will focus on how geospatial workflows and ROIs can be improved by adopting rapidly maturing technologies that are quickly becoming linchpins for large area mapping and modelling, including UAVs, Lidars, machine learning and AI analytics. Major organisations defining best standards and expert practices for geospatial surveys will be present at the convention centre to discuss current and future industry trends. The ASPRS (American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing), ISPRS (International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing) and the WGIC (World Geospatial Industry Council) will be among them. The USGS (United States Geological Survey) and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) will also attend, to present insights and cover interests from the subsection of geospatial work corresponding to bathymetry and similar aquatic surveys. For anyone interested in attending Geo Week or learning more about this event, go to Industry Mapping the future at Geo Week 2024 A wide variety of UAVs, photogrammetry payloads and more are set to be unveiled and showcased at Geo Week 2024 in Denver (Courtesy of Diversified Communications)

20 With scientists for parents, a biology teacher uncle and a childhood spent largely outdoors, environmental science called to Dr Bryan Cole from an early age. These days, he heads the Uncrewed Systems Research Transition Office (UxSTRO) at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), where his remit is to explore how uncrewed systems of all kinds can help further NOAA’s mission to monitor, understand and predict the global environment. “What drew me to NOAA was that it is an applied environmental science agency,” he says. “It has a wonderful mission: it studies, monitors and manages the United States’ oceans and coasts, forecasts the weather and works to understand and forecast the climate as well as managing marine fisheries and endangered marine species.” Climate change and the blue economy Climate change is also central to this mission. “A major focus of the agency, is understanding our impact on the climate and forecasting what is going to happen in a wide range of scenarios,” he says. “Studying that is part of the global community.” NOAA is also tasked with supporting the growth of the blue economy, a term that refers to the exploitation, preservation and regeneration of the marine environment. “We’re working to develop our understanding and grow industry in the maritime technical space,” he says. “NOAA really has a wide range of missions, and there are many ways in which uncrewed systems can be applied to them, from the top of the atmosphere to the bottom of the ocean, with the goal of filling gaps in observational data.” He explains that if anybody in NOAA wants to find out whether any kind of uncrewed system can gather information that they couldn’t otherwise get, the UxSTRO works to help them. The agency’s director of its Uncrewed Systems Research Transition Office explains the growing importance of UASs in its work. Peter Donaldson reports NOAA’s arc December/January 2024 | Uncrewed Systems Technology The Horus gas sample return glider being prepared for launch, tethered to the weather balloon that carries it to the top of the atmosphere at around 95,000 ft, where it is released (Courtesy of NOAA)

21 Connections and synergies Rather than developing its own uncrewed systems, NOAA works primarily with the private sector, he says, so that when someone in the administration comes to him with a mission to sample the top of the atmosphere, for example, and thinks they can do it with an uncrewed system, he can connect them with companies and academic institutions that can help. “We work very closely with industry to keep up to speed on the latest developments and help people in NOAA become aware of new capabilities coming along, and to see if there is a way to apply them to their missions.” An important part of this is looking for overlaps and potential synergies between different projects. “Say two people in the agency are both using UASs to take images, with one interested in studying sea turtles and the other in assessing the damage from tornadoes or other severe events,” he says. “They might not know there’s an overlap in what they’re doing, even though they’re both thinking of ways to increase their capability to use the information, so bringing those groups together and seeking ways to foster greater capabilities through collaboration within and outside the agency is crucial. “We support many partnerships with people across the agency, and through cooperative r&d agreements the government can partner with companies to test out things they’re developing that might work for our purposes. That helps spur their development and application in the government.” Dr Cole leads a team of four at the UxSTRO to support project management through acquisitions, contracting, science, r&d, selecting projects to fund and going through the funding process, he explains. He characterises the process of choosing which projects to fund as very formal, with subject matter experts reviewing all the proposals and ranking them based on established criteria. Next, a smaller team goes over the written reviews to assess which best match high-priority NOAA missions, with a final expert review then ranking those left according to which are most likely to produce useful results. Atmospheric sampling At the moment, NOAA is supporting projects such as the High-altitude Operational Returning Unmanned System (Horus) atmospheric sample collection glider. Horus is a new element of an ongoing multi-phase project run from the Global Monitoring Lab in Colorado, whose mission is to study and monitor greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the long term, right up to the top of the atmosphere. “It’s really hard to get to the top of the atmosphere and take a sample, because it’s 95,000 ft up – practically in space,” Dr Cole says. The lab has developed a device called the AirCore atmospheric sampling system for a weather balloon to carry to the top of the atmosphere before bursting, releasing the device to descend under a parachute and take its sample. While the parachute reliably brings the AirCore down safely, where it lands is dictated by the winds during its descent, which can deposit it up to 100 miles from the launch point. The Horus was developed to solve that recovery problem, carrying two AirCores internally, spiralling down under autopilot control and landing as near to the chosen spot as possible. The system completed its first mission with a full scientific payload in May this year. Sample return is critical to data quality. “There are lightweight sensors that can take in-situ measurements of the chemicals the lab is interested in, but Dr Bryan Cole | In conversation We support many partnerships with people in the agency, and the government can partner with firms totest things they’re developing Uncrewed Systems Technology | December/January 2024 The Meteodrone hexacopter contributes boundary-layer atmospheric data to NOAA’s National Weather Service 6-hourly forecasts. Similar UAVs could be integrated with ground-based networks (Courtesy of Meteomatics)

22 In conversation | Dr Bryan Cole not at the high level of precision this kind of monitoring requires,” Dr Cole explains. He compares the process with that of drilling ice cores from glaciers, which preserve a record of the atmosphere’s composition stretching back thousands of years. “We can’t freeze and preserve the gases themselves, but we have very high quality measurements. The instrument the lab uses detects molecules at a sensitivity of the order of parts per trillion, or one out of every 1012 molecules in the sample.” Dr Cole says there is interest in expanding the Horus system to more sites in the US, from other countries and at sea where such observations are particularly scarce, potentially even forming a global network. “That would be very powerful in building our understanding of the composition of the atmosphere and its change over time,” he says. Another key atmospheric region for getting more and better information to improve forecasting is the planetary boundary layer, which extends from the surface up to an altitude of between 3000 and 10,000 ft, Dr Cole says. This is where most of our weather is, and it is the subject of the 2-hourly forecasts on which aviation relies, and which in turn rely on aviation. He explains, “In NOAA we have a partnership with commercial airlines to put weather sensors on their aircraft, because as they take off and land, they fly through that boundary layer. But they are limited in time and place. Where there are big, active airports we get a lot of observations; in other places we get fewer.” To address this, NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory is running the Progressive Research and Optimization of a Durable and Independent Generation of UAS (Prodigee-UAS) project with UxSTRO support. The idea is to develop a family of robust VTOL UASs that can be integrated with existing weather monitoring networks such as mesonets – US mesonets constitute a distributed, land-based weather observation system of sensor arrays in a regular pattern. “Incorporating UASs into that is a way to turn a two-dimensional monitoring into a 3D system.” The UxSTRO is already supporting several projects seeking to integrate UASs into existing monitoring systems. Prodigee is focused on the CopterSonde, a 2.36 kg quadcopter developed at the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling in partnership with NOAA, which the team is looking to integrate into the Oklahoma mesonet. Another is an Oklahoma State University (a separate institution) collaboration with NOAA’s National Weather Service Tulsa Weather Forecast Office to integrate data collected by a Meteomatics Meteodrone into the office’s 6-hourly regional forecasts. December/January 2024 | Uncrewed Systems Technology The US National Hurricane Center makes use of data provided by UASs, buoyancy-driven gliders and sailing USVs to improve its safety-critical hurricane forecasting (Courtesy of NOAA) The Saildrone 1045, a USV designed to survive operating in hurricanes, measured 109.83 knots (126.4 mph) as it passed through the eye wall of Category 4 Hurricane Sam in 2021 (Courtesy of Saildrone)

Probing hurricanes NOAA also monitors hurricanes. “Understanding and being able to forecast where those storms are heading, and how intense they’re going to be when they make landfall, is critical,” Dr Cole says. “NOAA, along with the US Air Force and other services, fly hurricane hunter missions in which scientists get on planes and fly through the eye wall of a hurricane.” Minimising the need to put people in harm’s way is a classic use of uncrewed systems, and NOAA is running a series of r&d projects with the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Lab in Florida and the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Washington state to deploy uncrewed systems into the storms and provide unique observations in real time to forecasters at the National Weather Service. Cole points out that satellites can only see the surface of the ocean, so if a mass of very warm water is concealed by a cold freshwater ‘lens’ above it, the satellite will only see the cold water. If a hurricane stirs it up, the heat energy is transferred into it and causes rapid intensification of the storm. “If it happens near a land-falling hurricane it can increase the storm from Category 3 to 5, for example, just because of the hot water. Historically, that has been very difficult to forecast.” Buoyancy-driven underwater gliders are already being deployed in the Atlantic to collect detailed information over wide areas and large depth ranges to build an understanding of the ocean’s heat content. In recent years, NOAA has partnered with Saildrone to use a platform designed to withstand hurricanes and collect storm data at the surface. NOAA has also developed aircraftlaunched UAVs and is working to deploy them into storms. In June 2022, as Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida, it launched a small Altius 600 from the WP3D Orion Hurricane Hunter aircraft into the storm, Dr Cole recalls. “It flew around inside Hurricane Ian for about 100 minutes and measured wind speeds faster than the airspeed of the platform itself, which meant it was essentially flying backwards in the storm, as low as 500 ft off the surface of the ocean,” he says. “That information was piped directly to the forecasters at the Hurricane Center, and they were able to verify wind speeds and directions, and provide better information to emergency managers about the severity and likely impact of the storm.” Climate monitoring with Saildrones “We have a mission to send Saildrones to the eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean,” he says. “The sea’s temperature in that region is what determines El Nino or La Nina, which have a major impact on our climate. But it’s in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a long way from everything, so we use robotic sailboats that can stay out for a very long time doing targeted missions to observe and understand the ocean and the atmosphere in those regions.” After a year in the job, Dr Cole now wants to grow the programme. “The potential to apply uncrewed systems to what NOAA is doing is huge, and will bring about their global use as well. I’m keen to explore anything we can do to grow our understanding of the atmosphere and the ocean, and share our knowledge with other parts of the US and other governments.” 23 Uncrewed Systems Technology | December/January 2024 Born in 1980 in Texas, Dr Bryan Cole grew up in the Midwest and developed an interest in nature and science at an early age. He earned bachelor’s degrees in biology and chemistry at St Olaf College in Minnesota, where his uncle and mentor Eric Cole teaches biology. “The first thing about him that comes to mind is the passion and joy he has in being outside and studying the environment. He’s constantly observing and learning, and has a very deep naturalist philosophy,” he says. A PhD in biological sciences from Stanford University followed, during which he spent most of his time at the institution’s Hopkins Marine Station in California, studying developmental biology and toxicology in sea urchins. Postdoctoral work took him to the University of California, Davis, where he developed chemical assays for gauging the impacts of novel contaminants including engineered nanoparticles. His introduction to NOAA came after this postdoctoral work, when he served on the staff of the US House of Representatives supporting the development of ocean policy. That was followed by a job at the US Geological Survey and then NOAA. At NOAA, his focus is on understanding everything the organisation is doing and communicating it to Congress, which has given him what he calls ‘the 60,000 ft view’. “When I started working on this programme in 2020, I found that understanding what everyone was doing helped me support their work,” he says. Dr Bryan Cole