Aerovironment testing potential for UAVs to re-establish communications in event of disasters
While UAV’s continue to reshape the theater of war, they are also finding more and more non-military applications, from gathering atmospheric data to delivering supplies to remote villages. Now Aerovironment is examining the potential for its UAVs to rapidly re-establish communications when existing communications networks are knocked out following a natural or man-made disaster.
Aerovironment will demonstrate using its family of portable, hand-launched small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for creating an airborne communication relay. The individual aircraft, which include the RQ-11B Raven, Wasp AE, RQ-20A Puma and Shrike VTOL, are small enough to be transported in a backpack or vehicle and can be in the air in less than five minutes. Depending on the model, the unmanned aircraft, which are operated via a hand-held control unit, can fly for between 45 minutes and two hours.
The demonstrations are being conducted for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Deployable Aerial Communications Architecture (DACA) Notice of Inquiry (NOI) proceeding, which aims to ensure communications can be restored rapidly in the event of a disaster.
To enable hand-held public safety and emergency response radios to communicate with one another over long distances and beyond-line-of-sight without the need for ground-based antennas or repeaters, the unmanned aircraft will carry off-the-shelf communication relay equipment. This is in addition to Aerovironment’s Digital Data Link (DDL) component that enables encrypted, beyond-line-of-sight voice, video, data and text communication through each unmanned air vehicle and ground station.
“AeroVironment’s small UAS have proven themselves to be reliable, rugged, and cost-effective lifesaving tools for troops on the frontline,” said Roy Minson, AeroVironment senior vice president and general manager of Unmanned Aircraft Systems. “We are seeing only the beginning of the utility these tools can deliver to military and non-military users. By demonstrating how small UAS can also provide instant communications capabilities we hope to help the FCC and industry envision valuable new applications of our technology to preserve lives, property and resources.”
Please keep comments to less than 150 words. No abusive material or spam will be published.
"Air time" is limited by the battery capacity though.
Could we go one step further and make the device "tethered" by means of a power wire or cable that is lightweight and would supply enough electrical power to run both the electronics packages and also have enough for the lift motors.
In theory it could stay up there indefinitely or until power has been removed.
I was thinking that the only way to get that much power up a thin power wire is by using AC voltage at 240 or 480 Volts at a few amps. This would also allow the motors to be very small in size and also brush less for a good thrust to weight ratio of the whole platform. The motors could be totally sealed units to keep moisture and rain out of them. No bulky DC powered components would be needed at all.
Having it tethered with either a thin power cable or coaxial cable , you would never have to worry about it being lost buy a strong wind blowing it away in hover mode.
Actually it could be guyed with 3 very small wires and as long as the wires were kept taught by the upwards thrust of the motors ,it would be pretty much stationary and stay in the same place no matter what the winds are doing or which direction they are blowing from. Using this method you would not need to actually control its position at all ,just the amount of thrust to the lift motors to make it go up.
As soon as you start to talk about tethers, a balloon makes more sense as it isn't continuously using energy to generate lift. In almost any conditions that you can use a static UAV in, you can use a balloon. Where the UAV really comes into its own is in mobile situations.
A balloon based systems could be put into aerodynamic casings and deployed by dropping from aircraft.