Air Platforms

LAAD 2019: ST Engineering hexacopter achieves key BLOS permit

04 April 2019

ST Engineering’s hexacopter DrN-15 UAV on display at the 2019 LAAD Defence and Security exposition. Source: IHS Markit/Pat Host

ST Engineering believes it is one step closer to securing the first customer for its DrN-15 hexacopter unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) now that it has secured a key permit, according to a company official.

Calvin Tan, assistant principal engineer, told Jane's on 4 April that DrN-15 became the first UAV to receive Singapore's beyond line-of-sight (BLOS) permit. Traditional UAVs, he said, are required to maintain visual LOS. Tan said interest grew in the DrN-15 once it received this permit and that ST Engineering is in talks with potential customers in acquiring the aircraft.

DrN-15 operates in BLOS by using cellular 4G data connectivity as the aircraft has a subscriber identification module (SIM) card similar to cellular telephones. This makes the aircraft suitable for urban environments where it uses existing 4G cellular infrastructure to provide video and data feeds to ground control systems (GCSs) wherever they are in the world.

The DrN-15 has an endurance of 40 minutes, weighs 12 kg, and features a payload capacity of 3 kg. Payloads can be customised as long as the aircraft does not weigh more than 15 kg.

Depending on customer requirements, payloads can range from full high-definition (HD) camera or infrared (IR) camera for night operations to a high-resolution DLSR camera. Tan said ST Engineering is considering adding inspection applications to the DrN-15.

Tan said militaries are considering the DrN-15 for surveillance and military base protection. Instead of having humans physically patrol perimeters, militaries can use the aircraft to perform the patrolling and return information for situational awareness. Although many military installations are remotely located in areas with little or no traditional cellular data connectivity, Tan said the DrN-15 can connect to a military's own private cellular service to provide data connectivity.

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