Singapore 11 November 2013- Micro UAVs (MUAV) are to provide their Operator with surveillance on demand, but until now supporting actions have detracted from the full value they could offer. Operators have to balance the efforts of managing their flight path via waypoints, interpreting the images received with their geo-position, monitoring the remaining flight time available and other technical tasks that detract from the true objective of the MUAV, which is to gain intelligence of the area under observation.
To refocus the deployment of MUAVs, HOPE Technik embarked on a multi-prong development to bring a new paradigm to their usage.
The SPIDER Micro UAV is a field-tested and deployed solution that allows multiple Operators to direct multiple MUAVs towards several objectives, concurrently. This changes the current relationship of one-to-one control of the MUAVs, and replaces it with the ability to have a team of MUAVs being a shared resource amongst several Operators. Each Operator merely has to use their Smartphone or Tablet to select the location of interest on the map, or on the ‘live’ video image for this request to be sent to the team of MUAVs. The team of MUAVs will then self-select the most appropriate aircraft which will then be dispatched to provide the surveillance. Different hierarchal rules can be preset to govern the authority each Operator has.
The team of MUAVs is self-forming and self-healing, whereby any additional MUAVs that join this network are accepted on an ad-hoc basis and will add to the assets available to provide the surveillance, and any MUAVs that are removed from the team are reflected by the immediate automatic reconfiguration of the aircraft allocations.
The SPIDER MUAV is a truly autonomous aircraft from take-off to landing, with each SPIDER MUAV possessing its own mission planner computer that provides mutual avoidance, path planning and adherence to flight zone boundaries. This decentralized approach removes any single point of failure concerns and ensures the network is self-sustaining: The mission ends only when every aircraft has been removed from the network, else just one aircraft can welcome any new additions to the network and re-propagate the mission requirements.
This self-sustaining architecture also extends to flight time monitoring of every aircraft, and the network automatically summons new aircraft to take-off and replace other aircraft whose battery is nearly depleted mid-flight, thereby providing seamless and effortless eyes on the target without the hassle of manually planning and activating such a replacement that is current state-of-art.
This paradigm also facilitates a new concept of operations where Front Line Operators no longer need to bring the MUAV with them, instead, the network can be sent to them and left to loiter or even perch themselves, awaiting activation as needed. The Front Line Operators only need to bring spare batteries and their intervention is merely as requested by the network to reinforce the flight coverage above them.
With the greatly reduced workload of the Operators, the focus of the MUAVs is the video surveillance it provides, and this also allows the Operator to click points of interest on the video image that is then translated to the 2D map. The video feed and map are part of the network that can then be accessed by all the Operators in the network.
“We have provided UAV solutions to a variety of clients globally and they consistently lament of the distractions that normal usage have. They only want a high quality video feed of the target, and are not interested in how and where the UAVs fly. It took us a significant amount of development to re-imagine the ‘ops concept’ of UAVs and are very satisfied that we matured a revolutionary solution that has been field deployed with good results,” said Mr Aswin Thomas, Specialists Engineer, HOPE Technik.