California National Guard Demo


Regular listeners of the sUAS News Podcast may have noticed a gap in programming as this Wednesday’s show was dark. Gene Robinson and I were busy attending a systems demo here in Sacramento. I’ve been waiting a long to time for something closer to home, cooler, and without sand.

Folks at the demo included a few familiar faces from the Small Unmanned Systems Expo. We had Clarence from IPS, Dan Cassidy from MTSI and a few new faces from KSI Video and Simulyze. The briefing’s consisted of various software solutions for video management and what is commonly called the Common Operators Picture or, COP.  The COP software was remarkable in that the interface was much like something very akin to social networking sites. The obvious benefit is that the training and reoccurring training are virtually nonexistent.  I see the dollar signs being saved in down time and the perpetual wheel of training.

Beyond that, we got an overview of the IC4U command vehicle from IPS, the command cart, and Sea Ray ROV. I’m IMG_9905linking the great white shark video. Very impressive video as the shark appears to be completely at ease with the ROV.

Then it was Gene’s turn to talk about the Spectra  and some of it capabilities. I must pause to say that I haven’t seen one in person for a while, and Gene has really refined the platform into a very capable and simple system.  Also on hand for the demonstration was one of Gus Calderon’s mighty IsisCopters  Very robust, but again another example of thoughtful engineering distilled down to the austere basics.

IPS’s Dave Copenhaver closed out the indoor presentations part by telling those assembled about some of the other technologies they have developed. Definitely worth your time to do a little exploring on their site. We definitely need to have these guys on the podcast.

Finally, after lunch, we were up for the flying part of the demo. Gene explained in detail the virtues of the Spectra system, developed and fielded by RPFlightsystems. This system and Gene’s technique have been credited with 10 finds. You can read all about it in First to Deploy

Yours truly was the internal pilot on the new Robota autopilot. I can’t crow loud enough as the interface was one of the more user friendly I’ve seen. There were some notable features, but the one that really stood out is the built in checklist.

The wind started to kick up by the time we were ready for the flying part of the demo. With clearance from the tower, Gene was ready at the flight line, and I was manning the GCS. We acquired our position, ran through the checklist, and launched into the wild, but windy wild blue yonder. All of the video was being sent back to the IC4U briefing station on the port side of the vehicle and on the Rubicon Cart. The Rubicon Cart is another one of Clarence Boice’s creations to provide mobile and standalone flexibility to the collection and dissemination of ISR. The Cart is fully deployable by a single person even on unimproved surfaces. The Rubicon Cart is so simple and functional that it is pure genius.

For the finale we got a demo of the IsisCopter. Definitely one of the larger quads I’ve seen fly, and obviously designed and built for real world applications.  The wind really started whipping, but IsisCopter held position and gracefully completed the demo. To be honest we never really got into navigable airspace, but that’s the inherent beauty of the VTOL design.

All’s well that ends well and the day was a total success in my book. We all got to see/hear about new technology that can assist professionals in disaster relief efforts. Someday these tools will hopefully be at the widespread disposal of these folks mitigating some of the safety issues of saving lives.

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Patrick Egan
Editor in Field, sUAS News Americas Desk | Patrick Egan is the editor of the Americas Desk at sUAS News and host and Executive Producer of the sUAS News Podcast Series, Drone TV and the Small Unmanned Systems Business Exposition. Experience in the field includes assignments with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Battle Lab investigating solutions on future warfare research projects. Instructor for LTA (Lighter Than Air) ISR systems deployment teams for an OSD, U.S. Special Operations Command, Special Surveillance Project. Built and operated commercial RPA prior to 2007 FAA policy clarification. On the airspace integration side, he serves as director of special programs for the RCAPA (Remote Control Aerial Photography Association).