Issue 54 Uncrewed Sytems Technology Feb/Mar 2024 uWare uOne UUV l Radio and telemetry l Rheinmetall Canada medevacs l UUVs insight DelltaHawk engine l IMU focus l Skygauge in operation l CES 2024 report l Blueflite l Hypersonic flight

Blueflite | UVD Noppel admits there is nothing groundbreaking in using more than one receiver that talks to more than one constellation, but he emphasises the importance of receiver quality, along with their number and placement, to a reliable and redundant navigation system. Independence from GNSS is also implemented with new software from Wonder Robotics, which Blueflite plans to test using the UAVs’ bottom-mounted stereo camera as the primary sensor. In terms of the main communications bearers, the three options offered by Blueflite are mesh ratio, LTE cellular and satcom. “All three can operate simultaneously on the drone, and switch to the system with best connectivity to connect to blueDigital and blueControl [explained below]. Operators can choose which configuration they prefer,” Noppel explains. “All data channels are encrypted and use secure access technology.” The full suite of sensors also includes: Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) and FLARM (‘flight alarm’) collision-warning systems; an inertial measurement unit (IMU), and an airspeed-measurement system. There are also multiple temperature sensors around the vehicle, sensors to provide feedback from components over the controller area network (CAN) bus, vibration sensors and load-bay monitoring signals. Stacks of software Blueflight has developed its own software, which includes the autopilot stack aboard the vehicle, the ground station and a fleet operations tool, all with ‘blue’ branding. In the ground station, blueControl provides missionplanning and execution, and it will be integrated with the blueDigital fleet operations tool. BlueDigital is focused on fleet management, maintenance, data management, and the integration of third-party software such as uncrewed traffic management (UTM) and logistics tools. It also assists with quality assurance, with repositories of digital documents and tools to help generate reports for regulators. The bluePilot package contains the lower-level flight-control algorithms. It also monitors the UAV’s health and provides this data to the blueControl and blueDigital packages. The UAVs can be flown manually with a handheld controller, and first-person view (FPV) functionality is available. An extension of bluePilot, called blueBrain, carries out the higher-level autopilot functions. In addition to following flight plans automatically, the autopilot supports several autonomous safety features. “We are working with selected third-party suppliers to provide this function, as operators may have different preferences regarding these systems,” Noppel says. “We currently integrate collisionavoidance systems and obstacleavoidance systems. Automatic rerouting is part of the UTM system integration.” Noppel says 15 vehicles have been built so far, not including prototypes, at its in-house development facility. Research and development on the basic vehicle platform are complete, and the wingless Cobalt is now available to customers. Testing of Cobalt and Slate continues, however, with a focus on FAA Part 135 certification and flights in extreme environments and situations. “The same is true for the software – there’s a beta version and we are constantly improving it with the help of a testing partner.” Series production vehicles will be built in the central region of New York state, and Blueflite is working with partners to set up an assembly line there. Noppel anticipates a production rate of 1000plus vehicles per year within seven years. The state’s GENIUS NY UAS accelerator programme awarded Blueflite its US $1 m grand prize last October. Future work Noppel expects to commercialise Slate this year and progress the integration of third-party equipment, including collision-avoidance systems. Blueflite expects to finalise integration of the fuelcell system this year too, and is planning fully 3D-printed versions of the vehicles. “On the software side, blueDigital is in constant development to enhance functionality, move everything to the cloud and increase compatibility with other systems. The onboard software is also going through revision to make the drone smarter and more autonomous.” 113 Uncrewed Systems Technology | February/March 2024 Tilt actuators and rotor speeds can be controlled independently to enable a number of advanced flight modes, including flight in unusual attitudes such as nose-up or nose-down hover