News | Aug 25, 2017

6 drone technologies that could be your next business idea

News Article Image of 6 drone technologies that could be your next business idea

An RQ-7 Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System before being loaded onto the launcher on Camp Pendleton, Calif., August 19th, 2017. (Lance Cpl. Desiree King/Marine Corps)

The RQ-7 is an unmanned aircraft, otherwise known as a drone, flown from the ground and used for tactical aerial reconnaissance in Iraq and Afghanistan, making its mission counting wildlife on Camp Pendleton last weekend a first of its kind.

Wildlife surveys are not a new concept for the base, the results are used to determine how healthy the animals are and how sustainable their population is. The missions have historically been conducted from military or contracted helicopters.

Through the use of drones like the RQ-7, the Marine Corps has a low-cost alternative in hand. The unmanned aircraft uses a fraction of the fuel a helicopter requires and can stay airborne longer. It also offers the benefit of reducing crew requirements, making it no wonder units have begun utilizing drones for a variety of unforeseen tasks.

In addition to wildlife surveys, TechLink assembled a short list of exciting drone technologies that are available for commercial license so you too can start adapting this awesome technology for new business missions.

Precision Aerial Delivery Systems

The snowflake airdrop system in testing. (Naval Postgraduate School)

One of the missions of the Naval Postgraduate School–Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Center is to support the development of precision aerial delivery systems to enable conventional aircraft or autonomous vehicles to deliver payloads at high offsets onto a target area with near pinpoint accuracy, minimizing risk to the airdrop craft and limiting the need for ground vehicle convoys. Use this series of related technologies to deliver products exactly where your customers need them.

Multi-purpose, flexible wing structure for small unmanned aerial systems

Illustration of the flexible wing structure

Patent illustration of the flexible wing structure.

Small unmanned aircraft systems, also known as micro air vehicles, are promising tools for a variety of military and commercial applications. Some small UAS have flexible wings and are lightweight, making them back-packable and easy to deploy. Most UAS that are currently available have limited extended communications ability and short battery life. To enhance communications and battery life without increasing weight and sacrificing deployability, Navy researchers have conceptualized a flexible wing that incorporates electronics, sensors, fuel cells, and can self-erect upon receiving thermal stimuli.

Power line sentry charging

Patent illustration of the Power Line Sentry.

Patent illustration of the Power Line Sentry.

Are those birds sitting on a telephone wire? Nope, it’s a flock of small UAS recharging on power lines. This patented technology allows drones to clandestinely collect propulsion and other energy needs from a conveniently located–and possibly enemy owned–energy transmission line. The vehicle parks on the transmission line and charges up using a current flow dependent, magnetic field determined, rather than shunt, voltage dependent, conductor coupling. And all the while the UAS continues its surveillance.

Unmanned aerial system launched from water

Patent illustration of the pneumatic launch tube.

This awesome invention is a deployment system for a water-based launch of a UAS. It is comprised of a pneumatic launch tube surrounded by a support structure. The structure includes an inflatable bladder to suspend the tube at a specified depth of water, with a telescopic weight below the tube to insure proper orientation. The launch angle is adjustable in relation to the support structure, which allows for a degree of freedom in aiming a variety of drones. This feature also allows for differences in wind speed and direction, as well as the current state of the sea. To power a launch, the system may use a compressed air tank, a track guided actuator, or a spring loaded device.

Optimized Route Finding Software for Air and Ground Vehicles

Data Image

An optimized route mapped on Google Earth.

The Automated Impacts Routing (AIR) software is already in use by the military and provides users the ability to find optimized paths through airspace or ground space taking into consideration multiple and dynamic adverse conditions that can determine mission success or failure. While most routing algorithms have limitations, such as finding a path using pre-defined networks, AIR uses entire grids for multiple levels (3D) to be ingested, with values of adverse conditions, e.g., weather, for each grid cell defined for the entire grid. AIR execution results in an optimized path not necessarily along a predefined network, lending a complete solution that may not have otherwise been considered. The web service version of AIR is capable of asynchronously calculating optimized paths avoiding adverse conditions and obstacles at multiple resolutions, taking multiple user-defined waypoints (mission critical points to travel to), platform speed, risk level, and 3D volumes/obstacles to avoid as inputs.

Collisionless Flying of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Soldier pushing Shadow on runway.

An unmanned aerial vehicle technician returns an RQ-7 Shadow to the VMU-4 hanger at Camp Wilson. (Lance Cpl. Stanley Moy/Marine Corps)

The Army has developed a system and method for ensuring collisionless flight of three or more UAV’s. Collisionless flight is achieved by overlaying a circulant digraph with certain characteristics over the area to be flown. Circulant digraphs are a type of directed graph, or a set of vertices connected by arcs or directed edges of set jump sizes and which have a direction associated with them. Each drone is then assigned to a flight path corresponding to a directed cycle of the circulant digraph where each vertex of the circulant digraph corresponds to two waypoints. To maximize coverage, each of the vertices of the circulant digraph may then be updated such that they satisfy two tests: a convexity test and an isosceles avoidance test. The updated waypoint may then be relayed from a control station to each drone.

Headshot Image of Joan Wu-Singel, CLP

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