UK unmanned autonomous systems house Blue Bear Systems Research (Stand N2-277) is showcasing an innovative modular unmanned aerial system (UAS).
According to Dr Yoge Patel, Blue Bear’s CEO, there is increasing interest in the use of unmanned and autonomous systems to deliver ‘fractionalised’ capability.
‘‘Rather than use one big unmanned aerial vehicle [UAV], you use a swarm of several smaller UAVs to execute the task,’’ she explained. ‘‘It’s a different way of operating.’’
As part of this evolving approach, Blue Bear has since the start of this year been working on a design concept for a modular UAS able to be rapidly reconfigured to meet different mission requirements.
‘‘We’ve concentrated on the sort of vehicle that could form part of a swarm of 20 or 30 UAVs,’’ said Patel. ‘‘What we’ve engineered and prototyped is a system that can be rapidly tailored for the mission in hand, with separate plug-in modules in the belly, tail, nose and detachable wings.
‘‘In each payload module you accommodate a device − a flight controller, battery, sensors, and so on. It’s a flexible and quickly assembled vehicle system that uses fluted plastic materials and simple flat-pack assembly. Laser cutting and 3D printing enable cost-effective manufacture appropriate to volumes.’’
Blue Bear has recently secured multiple contracts from the MoD’s ‘last mile’ defence and security ‘Accelerator’ competition. This effort, focusing on the challenging ‘last mile’ resupply in the land environment, seeks to develop and demonstrate the use of autonomous systems to deliver mission-critical supplies from the forward-most location (such as a physical base or a logistics/infantry vehicle) to personnel engaged in combat operations.
‘‘We have won three ‘last mile’ contracts,’’ said Patel. ‘‘The first is looking at tasking of UAVs from soldier-worn smart vests. The second is looking at unmanned traffic management.
‘‘The third is looking at a ‘fractionalised’ system to perform the ‘last mile’ resupply.
What we are looking at is breaking up the bulk pallet so that cargo can be delivered to the front line in a more agile manner.’’