Unmanned aerial system delivers package to submarine at sea

Nov. 25, 2020
Distributed piloting systems prove effective for Skyfront’s Perimeter drone.
In this week’s roundup from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, which highlights some of the latest news and headlines in unmanned vehicles and robotics, ship-to-submarine package delivery, Walmart puts on a drone light show, and North Dakota expands permissions for drone flights.

Skyfront's Perimeter drone used to perform first ship-to-submarine delivery via small UAS

Skyfront has announced that its Perimeter drone was recently used to perform the first ship-to-submarine delivery via small UAS.

During the flight, the long-endurance hybrid-electric Perimeter drone showcased its ability to resupply submarines at sea in a quick and cost-effective manner.

Skyfront’s command and control handoff capability was unveiled during the flight. Pilots aboard the surface vessel launched the drone and flew it near the submarine. Once there, pilots aboard the submarine took control of the drone and released the package onto the top of the sub.

Skyfront says that command and control handoff is offered as an option on all Skyfront Perimeter UAS, including those equipped with Silvus Technologies’ Streamcaster radios for the data link and Optimum Solutions’ long range tracking antennas. With this option, an unlimited number of pilots and ground control stations can seamlessly view video from and take control of the Perimeter UAS at any time. The drone can be controlled using joysticks or Skyfront’s satellite map software.

According to Skyfront, the capability demonstrated by the Perimeter drone is “essential” for long range missions to maintain line-of-sight control by using multiple distributed pilots to comply with some countries’ aviation rules and regulations. Pilots can also maintain full control of the vehicle while flying over rugged terrain where radio links are likely to be compromised by line-of-sight obstructions.

Walmart, Intel partner to bring holiday drone light show to communities across U.S.

In an effort to uplift families following an unprecedented 2020, Walmart has announced the “Walmart Holiday Drone Light Show,” which the retail giant describes as “an all-new magical experience that brings the joy and wonder of the holiday season to the skies of select communities across the country, and to all families through a special live-streamed event.”

A free and contactless experience, the “Walmart Holiday Drone Light Show” will bring holiday songs to life “like never before,” Walmart says. Nearly 1,000 Intel drones will take to the night’s sky to create three-dimensional seasonal shapes and characters such as snowflakes, reindeer, snowmen and holiday presents. The shapes and characters will be choreographed to a soundtrack of classic and modern holiday favorites, from “Frosty the Snowman” by Bing Crosby to “Run Run Rudolph” by Kelly Clarkson.

According to Walmart, each Intel drone serves as a pixel of light that paints the night sky with dynamic 3D animations to create a “vivid and truly unforgettable story.”

“After a particularly tough year, we want to help families end the year looking up. We want customers and communities to enjoy a moment of rest, peace and hope,” explains William White, chief marketing officer at Walmart.

“From our summer movie drive-in to our fall gameday and Halloween experiences, we’ve been finding ways to help families enjoy seasonal traditions in a year when they thought it might not be possible.”

From Dec. 4 to 20, the “Walmart Holiday Drone Light Show” will visit Kansas City, Kansas; Dallas, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; Doswell, Virginia; Phoenix, Arizona; Charlotte, North Carolina; Sacramento, California; and Fayetteville, Arkansas. Before the drones take flight, the light show will feature pre-show entertainment, including music from local DJs and a short holiday special, “DreamWorks Trolls Holiday.”

Families everywhere can tune in to a live broadcast of the light show on Walmart’s Facebook, Instagram and TikTok channels on Saturday, Dec. 5 at 7:40 p.m. ET.

uAvionix participates in deployment of North Dakota's statewide BVLOS network

uAvionix has announced its participation in the deployment of North Dakota’s statewide Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) UAS infrastructure and network, Vantis, which is led by the Northern Plains UAS Test Site.

uAvionix is a strategic partner to Thales’ TopSky Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) platform, so it is deploying terrestrial command and control (C2) infrastructure and a cloud-based C2 service, which enables centralized management, coordination, and C2 handoffs. In turn, this will enable BVLOS missions across the key-site deployment area of McKenzie County, North Dakota.

The C2 service leverages uAvionix’s microLink Airborne Radio Systems (ARS) and skyStation Ground Radio Systems (GRS) developed to ASTM standards. According to uAvionix, microLink and skyStation are dual-architecture MIMO digital frequency hopping radios that enable intelligent make-before-break (MBB) transitions from one GRS to the next in long-range operations, enhancing the overall safety case.

For Vantis, the C2 service monitors overall system performance, the health and signal strength of each radio on the network, location monitoring and tracking, and centralized control.

“Thales is excited to partner with uAvionix in North Dakota to deploy a BVLOS C2 network infrastructure and service,” says Frank Matus, director of Digital Aviation Market Development for Thales.

“uAvionix achievements in the areas of surveillance and TSO avionics is instrumental in addressing the command and communications challenges faced by the emerging UAS industry in North Dakota and across the national airspace system.”

Through the deployment of its pingStation networkable ADS-B receivers, uAvionix is also contributing to the overall low-altitude airspace surveillance picture.

By providing networks such as Vantis with infrastructure and certified low Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP) avionics for mission-critical applications, uAvionix is advancing its mission to overcome operational and technical challenges of UAS integration into global airspace, the company says.

Compiled by Brian Sprowl, Associate Editor, AUVSI

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