Plus: AI’s visible radar aids in drone searches, and a drone is launched into Hurricane Ian
Just when you imagine that there can be no more twists and turns of the war in Ukraine does another one appear. Some may remember that the Estonian security forces Estonian/Russian man arrested Trying to send drones to Russia. The Estonian government has confiscated a shipment of DJI drones.
Estonia has now donated these drones to Ukraine for use against Russia in the ongoing war.
Remember the drones we seized from someone trying to donate them to Russian aggression in Ukraine? Well, these drones are still arriving in Ukraine. But the right way around and on the right side of the battlefront. https://t.co/No38Bbjkom
– Kaitsepolitseiamet (@kaitsepolitsei) October 3, 2022
Some might say that this is an example of, “what comes spins”. However, everyone respects Russia’s nuclear options …
Make drones smart
It’s nice that we have all shapes and sizes of battery and gas powered UAVs, those that take off and land vertically (eVTOL) or horizontally (in general, fixed wing). But how do we make them smart enough to complete tasks on their own?
Artificial intelligence (AI) could be the answer. Take the Boeing Loyal Wingman drone. It is being developed to fly autonomously alongside advanced fighters, possibly to control other drones flying nearby. These tasks require artificial intelligence, which is being integrated into the capabilities of unmanned aircraft systems.
We also have immediate needs, such as search and rescue, security patrols, inspections (for commercial and military facilities, borders and crowd control), and military intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISR/ISTAR). Besides, Australian company Sentient Vision Systems comes with a passive software-based “optical radar” solution.
Sentient Vision Systems uses its own digital AI processing with existing visible and infrared sensors. This combination could apparently exceed the ability of human and conventional radar to detect and track small moving objects.
Search and rescue at sea can be a really difficult task for people. Not surprisingly, many lengthy searches end up meaningless. While searching, a plane flies from 20,000 feet to 500 feet above the waves. If you’ve ever watched a cabin video of the air and sea searches in action, with a researcher staring out the plane window for hours, struggling to see a little thing bobbing in the sea below, it seems like a daunting task.
As an alternative, take a long-range (>55 nautical miles) drone, such as the Boeing/Insitu ScanEagle. Connect the scanned search camera and high-resolution nose turret to the vidar (visual detection and range) processing.
As a result, you have an autonomous airborne system that can find a person in the water from a distance of about 1.7 nautical miles, and determine the surface of the ferry from about 30 nautical miles. Insitu claims that conventional radar systems cannot do this. Within 12 hours it can search an area of about 13,400 square nautical miles.
Several such sorties may have found an early trace of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in 2014. A Boeing 777 with 239 people on board disappeared over the South China Sea 38 minutes after take-off on a Beijing-bound flight. Over a three-year period, long-range patrol aircraft covered 46,000 square miles before abandoning the search.
During 2015 and 2016, parts of the aircraft began to fall on the shores of countries located on the western Indian Ocean. The search may not have been easy even for a fleet of ScanEagles, considering the logistics and range of drones available, but major accidents may find success with vidar-equipped drones.
In the eye of the hurricane
The devastation caused by Hurricane Ian in southwest Florida was terrible. A shark swimming in a street in Fort Myers shows the degree of flooding left inland from a category 4-5 hurricane.
Ian was the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the United States in decades, with very strong winds and powerful storms. I sat in the middle of the storm 75 miles to the north, and it was a frightening tornado even there. I can’t sympathize enough with the Lee County residents, who only received an evacuation warning a day before they got infected.
However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has Hurricane Hunter Orion aircraft to investigate on Sept. 28 when the storm came from the Caribbean. Despite the bad turbulence, the P-3 flew into the upper reaches of the hurricane and launched a 27-pound Altus-600 drone into the eye at 4,500 feet. With a range of 275 miles up to 100 miles per hour, the cabin crew was controlling the tiny drone, using it to collect data about wind speed, pressure, temperature and humidity.
During the two-hour mission, an Altus drone flew into the eyewall, monitoring winds of 187 mph at altitudes between 2,300 and 200 feet. It is not clear exactly whether the drone survived.
While the information gathered may have helped in instant prediction of us Floridians on the ground, the real scientific value comes from feeding data into the National Hurricane Center’s models for storm detection and analysis to keep us safer in the future.
In short, this month we saw Russian-directed drones being sent to Ukrainian forces. Vidar artificial intelligence on Insitu ScanEagle drones promises huge gains for search and rescue. Once again, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) crew flew right into the eye of the hurricane, this time launching a drone to help collect essential storm data.