Milrem Robotics demonstrates THeMIS UGV to Italian Army
This week, Milrem Robotics demonstrated its autonomous THeMIS UGV to the Italian Army. The company also launched a new program to assess and analyze the implementation of intelligent systems into the army’s doctrine.
Milrem Robotics successfully presented its THeMIS UGV enhanced with Milrem’s Intelligent Functions Integration Kit (MIFIK) during the robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) capability spotlight. Capable of being integrated onto other unmanned vehicles providing the same capabilities, MIFIK features autonomous functions such as waypoint navigation and follow me.
Along with the live demonstration, Milrem Robotics also launched its Intelligent Systems Implementation Analysis and Assessment (IS-IA²) program, which is designed to help armed forces implement intelligent systems into their capabilities.
IS-IA² is made up of three steps: analyzing the requirements of the armed forces, implementing the tailor-made RAS solution with the integration of provided and/or customized technologies for the armed forces by the local industry, and evaluating the outcome.
“IS-IA² provides armed forces support from initial planning to full implementation and post implementation analyses of intelligent and robotic systems with (NATO standard) concept development and experimentation methodologies. This enables customers to get support and solutions for any step in the process,” explains Cpt (ret) Jüri Pajuste, the Defence Research and Development Director of the company.
“With years of experience in RAS experimentations and related system integration Milrem Robotics is in a great position to be a technology partner and kick-start an innovative robotics and autonomous systems evaluation program to create or enhance new military capabilities.”
Milrem Robotics recently delivered four THeMIS UGVs to the Royal Netherlands army, which increased its THeMIS fleet to six units. The THeMIS has been delivered to nine countries, seven of which are NATO members, including France, Norway, the UK, and US.
Drones being used to predict volcanic eruptions
Scientists are now using drone technology to help them predict volcanic eruptions more easily. Researchers from University College London and the University of Mexico have designed specially-adapted drones to help gather data from one of the most active volcanoes in Papua New Guinea (PNG), the Manam Volcano.
The goal of the drones is to enable local communities to monitor nearby volcanos and create more accurate predictions of future eruptions. Scientists could also use their measurements to learn more about some of the most inaccessible, highly active volcanoes in the world and how they contribute to the global carbon cycle.
Measuring volcanic gas emissions is one of the few ways scientists can forecast when a volcano is going to blow. Changes in volcanic emissions of gases such as sulfur dioxide (SO2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) can help detect the ascent of hot magma to the surface and expulsion of CO2-rich emissions that reportedly come before big eruptions.
While in PNG, the research team tested two types of long-range drones equipped with gas sensors, cameras, and other devices. The drones managed to safely fly over Manam’s billowing plumes and measure its volcanic emissions in a relatively accurate way. The volcano’s steep slopes make it incredibly dangerous to even consider collecting this data on foot.
The researchers integrated their drone measurements with satellite data to show that Manam ranks among the top 10 strongest degassing volcanoes in the world, emitting an estimated 3,700 tons of CO2 and roughly 5,100 tons of SO2 each day, which is higher than previous estimates.
“Our novel approach – that is, long-range and high-altitude [drone] operations enabling in situ measurements – is presently the only feasible means by which we can characterize gas chemistry at steep, hazardous, and highly active volcanoes like Manam,” the research team said in its paper.
In the future, drones could help scientists create more accurate volcanic profiles of the world’s most active volcanoes, which would create more accurate eruption predictions and potentially save lives in the process.
FAA announces BEYOND program following successful conclusion of UAS IPP
On Friday, Oct. 30, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced that the three-year UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP) successfully concluded on Oct. 25.
Many lessons were learned during the IPP program, but many challenges surrounding UAS integration remain. These challenges will be addressed through a new program called BEYOND. Eight of the nine state, local and tribal governments that participated in the IPP program have signed new agreements with the FAA to participate in the BEYOND program.
“The three years of information gathered under the drone Integration Pilot Program will be applied to a new initiative called BEYOND, which will further advance the safe integration of drones into our national air space,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
A Presidential Memorandum launched the IPP in Oct. 2017, which led to a competitive selection process from 149 applicants. The IPP participants and their industry partners used innovative strategies to craft successful safety cases to operate under the FAA’s existing regulations.
Under the regulations, participants conducted a variety of operations including package deliveries, inspecting pipelines and power lines, assessing flood damage, counting cattle, responding to 911 calls, and inspecting aircraft. The data from these flights has informed ongoing rulemaking, policy and guidance, and will continue to support future efforts.
“The IPP propelled the American drone industry forward, allowing for unprecedented expansions in testing and operations through innovative private-public partnerships across the country,” explains U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios.
“Now, the BEYOND program will build upon this success, tackling the next big challenges facing drone integration. The Trump Administration remains committed to the safe and innovative development of drone technologies for the benefit of the American people.”
The eight participants that will participate in the BEYOND program are Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma; Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority of Virginia; Kansas Department of Transportation; Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority; North Carolina Department of Transportation; North Dakota Department of Transportation; City of Reno, Nevada; and University of Alaska-Fairbanks.
Compiled by Brian Sprowl, Associate Editor, AUVSI