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Rapidly Deployable Protection of Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS)

Description:

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics 

OBJECTIVE: This effort intended to enhance protection of SUAS, allowing users to fly systems in enclosed spaces and near obstacles while minimizing risk of damage. Improving system protection during SUAS operations will minimize replacement cost of the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) assets and downtime caused by loss of assets, and will maximize user confidence in unknown terrain and mission completion. 

DESCRIPTION: With the introduction of SUAS operational concepts, Soldiers are now able to remotely maintain eyes on target and remain out of harm’s way. This capability is very valuable and effective in large open areas, but is significantly less effective in enclosed spaces due to risk of collision. There are ongoing efforts to develop collision avoidance capability of stationary objects through the introduction of additional software and sensors. This approach requires that the SUAS be capable of supporting the weight of additional sensors, or the additional power that software requires to function properly. In addition to the collision avoidance approach, there are also commercially available devices that can be attached to an SUAS that will allow collision events to occur without damage. Unfortunately, these physical protection devices tend to be designed for specific SUAS models, have bulky form factors which are difficult to store in a rucksack, and/or present too large of a weight for certain SUAS to carry. • Increased fielding of SUAS, increased need for that ISR capability indoors and in enclosed spaces, and the new focus on urban and megacity warfare dictate the need for a rapidly deployable SUAS protection system. Considerations that require exploration are the ability to provide protection to an unprotected SUAS rapidly, without additional tools and/or significant time and energy costs. A Soldier requiring an SUAS indoors will most likely need to unpack and connect to the SUAS quickly in the field, and in turn would need to rapidly stow the device in a rucksack or pocket quickly in order to keep hands free and react to contact. In the field, additional tools will not be available and various types of SUAS may be in use. • Therefore, the primary focus of this effort should be on the design and development of a system to rapidly provide protection to SUAS while adhering to the requirements as specified below. • The technology should have the following performance requirements: o System Protection: System must prevent damage to SUAS in collisions up to speeds of at least 5 knots (Threshold) and up to 10 knots (Objective). o Interface Compatibility: System must be compatible with all military fielded SUAS. o Installation Time: A trained user must be able to install the system on a given SUAS within 30 seconds (Threshold) (15 seconds Objective) o System Weight: 30 grams (Threshold). 15 grams (Objective). System weight includes power source (if powered) and all ancillary equipment. o Power Requirements (If Powered) • Interface: System must accept power from standard military batteries. • Duration: Operational Runtime must be at least 4 hours (Threshold) and up to 8 hours (Objective). 

PHASE I: Research, develop and propose a design concept with the potential of realizing the goals in the description above. Describe and quantify how the proposed solution offers enhancement(s) over current technology approaches and/or how it augments other strategies/technologies. Conduct necessary investigation and breadboarding on the design and performance of the components to demonstrate the feasibility and practicality of the proposed system design, minimizing user input. Deliver monthly progress reports and a final report documenting the research and development efforts, identifying any technical challenges that may cause a performance parameter(s) not to be met, results of any modeling, safety issues, and estimated production costs. 

PHASE II: Develop the technology identified in Phase I. Fabricate and demonstrate one prototype to be demonstrated with government furnished SUAS. The prototype must be capable of demonstrating the performance goals stated in the description above in the relevant environments. Unit cost target for final product must not exceed $1000. Deliverables include any prototypes, detail drawings and source code developed throughout effort. Deliver monthly progress reports and a final report documenting the design specifications, performance characterization and any recommendations for future development. 

PHASE III: A device meeting the performance requirements outlined in this effort would be applicable to military, industrial, and recreational user groups. Those who operate multiple in enclosed spaces, or in close proximity to obstacles would benefit from the significant reduction of risk of damage to the SUAS. Infrastructure Maintenance Personnel and Forestry Surveyors would be able to remotely inspect tunnels and trees respectively at very close ranges without fear of causing damage to expensive equipment. 

REFERENCES: 

1: Brigham Young University

2:  BYU Scolars Archive

3:  2012-08-07

4:  Development of Sense and Avoid System for Small Unmanned Aerial System http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4760&context=etd NOTE: Information included in Chapters 3 and 4 are of most use for collision avoidance development.

5:  Army Short-Range SUAS Salient System Requirements http://www3.natick.army.mil/docs/SUAS/Attachment6_Short_Salient.pdf - To be used to define current Army requirements for SUAS. Selection of fielded SUAS will occur in early FY18

6:  AeroVironment Snipe. To be used as order-of-magnitude sizing http://www.avinc.com/uas/view/snipe

KEYWORDS: SUAS, Rapidly Deployable, Protection, Lightweight 

CONTACT(S): 

Joshua Nason 

(508) 233-4265 

joshua.l.nason.civ@mail.mil 

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