Air Platforms

DSEI 2017: Drone Nest takes to the field

15 September 2017

Estonian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) specialist Eli Airborne Solutions has deployed its Drone Nest system in the field.

Speaking to Jane’s at DSEI 2017 in London, a company representative confirmed that Drone Nest is undergoing operational trials with the Estonian Border Guard.

The Drone Nest concept aims to provide a forward-deployed base station for the company’s ELIX-XL multirotor UAV, with which air vehicles could be stowed on standby for deployment when required and utilise the Drone Nest to exchange batteries.

Drone Nest operates with the ELIX-XL quadcopter. (Eli Airborne Solutions)Drone Nest operates with the ELIX-XL quadcopter. (Eli Airborne Solutions)

The current configuration of the system takes the form of a drum with a concave circular landing pad, under which is fitted the battery-exchange element. When not in use, the Drone Nest landing pad and air vehicle are covered by a lid.

The representative said that a single system has been deployed and will remain under evaluation throughout 2017 and into 2018, providing a 24-hour capability. Continual evaluation and feedback will come from the Border Guard, he added.

Eli envisages a network of the systems able to provide overlapping cover of an area and act as a force multiplier, with the ability to cycle aircraft on- and off-station to provide continuous coverage. The UAVs stored within could be activated via direct command from an operator, or automatically launched to conduct a mission when cued by an external sensor – such as a motion detector – with the aircraft programmed to automatically fly to the ‘trigger’ location and interrogate a target, or conduct a pre-determined flight profile.

According to the representative, a concept envisaged for a network of Drone Nests would make the systems available for operation by a number of users on demand – such as the border guard, army, or special forces – and would not be limited to any single-capability ‘owner’.

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