Planck Aero's Shearwater small UAS autonomously takes off and lands onto moving ground vehicle
Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar, Air Traffic Control (ATC) recently gave Planck Aerosystems (Planck Aero) permission to test its Shearwater small UAS in controlled airspace and at night.
During testing, the Shearwater small UAS routinely conducted successful autonomous takeoffs and precision landings onto a moving, off-road ground vehicle with centimeter-level accuracy in complete darkness. The UAS performed these tasks without GPS or a pilot in the loop.
According to Planck Aero, the ability to perform nighttime operations from moving vehicles represents a “major step” forward in demonstrating the maturity of the company's vision-based navigation technology.
“This type of testing is critically important to prove that small UAS can safely be operated in close proximity to a high volume of military air traffic, which will continue to be the case as small UAS become proliferated more widely with operating forces,” explains Josh Wells, CEO and co-founder of Planck Aerosystems and former US Navy Pilot.
“Through close coordination with Air Traffic Control leads from the Marine Corps, we were able to demonstrate that our technology could perform safe, autonomous missions, from moving vehicles, in national airspace - not only during the day but also at night.”
Planck Aero notes that this is the first time that a commercial UAS company has received authorization to operate at MCAS Miramar’s Autonomous Vehicle Proving Ground (AVPG).