Eramet gets access to new collaborative platform for analyzing UAS data through Delair partnership

Eramet, a global mining and metallurgy group, has signed a framework agreement with Delair to accelerate the digital transformation of its mining activities. Through the agreement, Eramet will get access to Delair Aerial Intelligence (, which is a new collaborative platform for analyzing UAS data and turning the results into valuable business insights. Delair notes that its platform has been up and running at the Tiébaghi mine in New Caledonia since January. By the end of the year, it will be used by all of Eramet’s mines. Currently, nine UAS are operating at Eramet. The plan is for nine more to be deployed by the end of the year, including Delair’s fixed-wing UX11 drone. Using Delair’s end-to-end platform, Eramet will be able to map and analyze around 300,000 hectares a year across all of its sites. According to Delair and Eramet, Eramet’s mining sites across New Caledonia, Gabon, Senegal and Indonesia offer a “considerable source” of topographical and geological data. Eramet plans to build digital twins of its mines so that it can control operations in real time, quickly schedule extraction projects, track ore inventories, ensure personnel safety, and manage the environmental impact of its sites. “Combining methods which are five times faster than traditional ways of working with centimeter-level accuracy in drone data collection, Eramet is able to optimize its mining operations, reduce costs and improve the safety of topographers. Using artificial intelligence-based analytics allows the Group to continually measure and update distances, surface areas, volumes and slopes,” Delair explains. “Interactive and scalable, the platform allows for data to be securely and easily exchanged, providing a convenient space to collaborate, communicate instructions, manage subcontractors, and store information on the Cloud. With this platform in place, it is now possible for Eramet to manage its mining operations in real time, in line with its strategic goals.”

Speedbird Aero receives regulatory approval to operate two experimental drone delivery routes in Brazil

Speedbird Aero, a Latin American drone delivery company, has become the first company in Latin America to win regulatory approval for a drone delivery operation, as the company has received regulatory approval from Brazil's National Civil Aviation Agency, also known as ANAC, to operate two experimental drone delivery routes in Brazil. Speedbird Aero operates a proprietary delivery drone with an integrated ParaZero parachute recovery system. The company has partnered with a Latin American food delivery company called iFood to offer an on-demand food delivery service that combines drone delivery with other forms of last-mile transportation such as motorcycles, bicycles, scooters, and e-bikes. The approved drone delivery routes will link two iFood Hubs with a food court and condominium complex, and will greatly reduce ground transportation time typically required for deliveries. For the first delivery route, drones will pick up orders from the rooftop of a large shopping complex in São Paulo and transport them to a nearby iFood pickup hub. Couriers waiting at the hub will shuttle orders to their final destinations. Each delivery route will take the drones approximately two minutes to fly.  For the second delivery route, drones will fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) to a secondary iFood pickup hub approximately 1.5 kilometers away. According to Speedbird Aero, this phase, which is expected to begin by December of this year, will enable a broader distribution footprint. “Our goal is to continue the development of unmanned aerial logistics in Brazil and Latin America with safety in mind,” says Samuel Salomão, Speedbird Aero's co-founder. Throughout the certification process, which took more than one year to complete, ANAC regulators assessed the safety management and risk mitigation planning aspects of Speedbird Aero's operations, which included a ParaZero autonomous parachute system for each delivery drone in Speedbird Aero's fleet. As part of the certification process, Speedbird Aero was required to perform six parachute deployments, including a final live parachute deployment in front of a team of ANAC officials on July 9. “All of these steps are part of a process that will culminate into a commercial product,” says Manoel Coelho, co-founder of Speedbird Aero.

AP uses Sonardyne's tech to stream first live broadcast to global audiences from an underwater submersible

Sonardyne International Ltd. has announced that the Associated Press used its BlueComm wireless through-water optical modem technology to stream the first live broadcast to global audiences from an underwater submersible.  Coming from a two-person submersible operating in waters off the Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean, the live broadcast via YouTube was “the first multi-camera live signal in full broadcast quality from manned submersibles using optical video transmission techniques, in which the pictures transmit through the waves using the electromagnetic spectrum,” according to the AP. “Without BlueComm, this could not be done. The submersibles have no cable connection to the vessel, so they cannot send their video feed through a cable,” says Darryl Newborough, technical director, Sonardyne. “Acoustic communications technologies work well, and over long distances, but their bandwidth is not wide enough to support live video streaming. BlueComm is the only option.” Although the submersible in this case was manned, underwater communications have been of keen interest to the unmanned systems community as well, as autonomous vehicles often have to surface to send along data, or be connected by a tether. The broadcast is part of an expedition by the Nekton Deep Ocean Research Institute’s First Descent, which is exploring some of the least explored areas of the ocean in the world around the Seychelles. These efforts are part of a project that seeks to increase understanding and help protect the marine life they contain. Real-time video from one of the mission’s two submersibles was able to be streamed through the water and then broadcast live across the world thanks to using the BlueComm free space optical modem on the submersible, along with a BlueComm receiver deployed from the hull of the Ocean Zephyr research vessel. With this broadcast, the public was essentially able to join the scientists as they explore their underwater habitats. Next week, as part of Sky Ocean Rescue, Sky News and Sky Atlantic plan to broadcast three live “subsea programs.” The programs will include live simultaneous broadcast from both of the mission’s two submersibles, again using BlueComm. Sonardyne notes that video transmission from a manned submersible using optical communications has been achieved before, but this will be the first time it has been achieved from two working close together, which means overcoming the challenges of signal interference.

UAVOS, KACST introduce Saker-1C unmanned aircraft

UAVOS and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), Saudi Arabia are collaborating on the development of the newest member of the Saker MALE UAS family, the Saker-1C unmanned aircraft. With ambitions to redesign and improve UAS features extending from engineering to operation, UAVOS and KACST are focusing on using advanced manufacturing technologies and integrating next-generation capabilities including state-of-the-art autonomy, navigation, communications, sensor processing and system of counter electronic warfare. “We are proud to introduce another advanced development and joint successful project of UAVOS and KACST,” says UAVOS CEO and Lead Developer Aliaksei Stratsilatau. “The successful flight demonstrations and operational tests reflect Saker's reliability and quality, together with its advanced technological capabilities. There is no doubt that Saker - 1C gives its users significant operational advantages. We consider Saker - 1C UAS as a leading system with considerable sales potential.” Designed to conduct various types of missions including long-endurance surveillance, communications relay, and search and rescue operations, the Saker-1C is equipped with the most progressive technologies developed by the two companies to date. Described as a versatile aircraft, the Saker-1C is capable of carrying various payloads including SAR imagery and coherent change detection, Gyro Stabilized EO/IR Gimbal, and Digital Video Data Link Tactical UAV. The Saker-1C has a fully redundant control system and avionics. Thanks to an improved onboard satellite communication system, an advanced direct link is provided when flying within Line of Sight (LOS), and switches seamlessly to a satellite link when flying Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) to transmit real time information. Testing and operation on the different Saker family aircraft has facilitated the improvement of the system. The aircraft's payload capacity features have been increased up to 660 pounds in comparison to the Saker-1B. Via its retrofitting long-endurance wings with greater internal fuel capacity, the UAS also offers 100-plus percent more fuel capacity. The UAS is equipped with fuel tanks for 30 hours maximum endurance, and it can reach an altitude of 23,000 feet and a maximum speed of 110 knots. Additionally, the lift augmentation capability has been improved thanks to the addition of fowler flaps and interceptors. The Saker-1C has a stronger body structure thanks to improved manufacturing technologies, which allows for quick and easy maintenance without adding to its weight. The use of modern composite technologies has also reduced the dry weight of the aircraft to 600 kilograms.

NUAIR Alliance and Thales agree to collaborate on UTM research

The Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NUAIR Alliance) has signed a multi-year collaboration agreement with Thales. NUAIR says that the agreement supports its efforts to safely integrate UAS into “traditional, controlled airspace.” The agreement also supports NUAIR’s ability to conduct operations at its New York UAS test site’s 50-mile UAS traffic management (UTM) corridor at Griffiss International Airport. “This partnership helps advance the critical tools needed for beyond visual line of site testing; these are capabilities not found at any other test site in the nation,” says Major General Marke F. “Hoot” Gibson (ret), chief executive officer of the NUAIR Alliance. “This region is leading the industry and attracting partners from across the globe due to investments being made by New York State. We look forward to working with Thales and deploying this industry-leading technology in coming months, taking our capabilities to a new level.” Thales is working with NUAIR at the Griffiss test site to look into how advancement in UTM could offer a preview into future airspace automation capabilities. Thales will do this this by integrating the entire airspace situation into its software, so NUAIR can enable the tracking of unmanned flights and keep operators a safe distance from manned aviation. ​Other capabilities that Thales brings to the table to facilitate the safe integration of UAS into the airspace include cyber security and the concept of “centralized, airspace management” for UAS operations to ensure the safety and security of the National Airspace System (NAS). Thanks to all of its capabilities, Thales was recently named as a Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) approved partner to help directly support UAS integration into the NAS. The Thales LAANC system allows small UAS operators to access airspace safely and efficiently by receiving authorization from the FAA in just minutes, which is a significantly quicker time frame than the previous approval process in place before LAANC that would take nearly 90 days. Thales is one of only five companies approved by the FAA to provide LAANC services, and it will provide tools to plan flight operations for commercial UAS users at more than 225 airports across the U.S.

Planck Aerosystems awarded contract to help small UAS operate in challenging environments

The United States Air Force Research Lab has awarded Planck Aerosystems Inc. (Planck Aero) a contract to develop guidance, navigation, and control solutions for small UAS operating in challenging environments. The result of the most recent solicitation from the Air Force’s Open Innovation topics of the competitive awards-based Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR), the contract will result in Planck Aero developing a visual compass for small UAS in environments where existing commercial offerings may suffer degraded performance. To help the small UAS operate safely and reliably without having to rely just on GPS or other expensive and heavy installed hardware, Planck Aero is leveraging existing products, as well as its expertise in vision-based navigation. “Planck has always focused on developing and deploying technologies necessary for unmanned systems to operate in areas that have previously been inaccessible,” says Josh Wells, Planck Aero’s CEO. “Our technology enables drones to operate from moving vehicles and vessels on land or at sea for commercial and defense customers. This project is a natural extension of that technology.”

AeroVironment's automated Quantix hybrid UAS for farmers now available

AeroVironment, Inc. has announced that its automated Quantix hybrid UAS and AeroVironment Decision Support System (AV DSS) analytics software are now available for sale through its authorized reseller network. According to AeroVironment, the technology is a “powerfully simple-to-use and fully integrated drone and data processing solution delivering actionable intelligence for the farm.” “We are offering farmers the first fully integrated drone, sensor and software information solution, that’s as easy to use as an app, for collecting and using aerial imagery,” says Kirk Flittie, vice president and general manager of AeroVironment’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment. “Farmers can now survey their entire farm more efficiently and accurately, on their schedule, to enable better decision making and farm management. We think this represents a turning point for the commercial use of drone technology, and we look forward to helping farmers everywhere gain information superiority in their ongoing battle against uncertainty.” Farmers are offered a near real-time view of their farm using what AeroVironment identifies as “Quick-Look,” which allows farmers to view Quantix data in the field after each flight. Imagery is processed through AV DSS using proprietary algorithms, providing higher resolution, advanced analytics, and historical trend analysis. “Throughout the development of Quantix and AV DSS we worked closely with growers to identify the most meaningful benefits delivered by our drone ecosystem,” explains Jeff Rodrian, Commercial Information Solutions director. “We helped farmers use aerial imagery and analytics to assess the effectiveness of their growing processes, improve their scouting efficiency, and learn from changes in historical data to make improvements year-over-year.” A Quantix hybrid UAS, plus a one-year subscription to AV DSS, with the ability to upload all the acreage needed for advanced data analysis, has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $16,500. The complete package includes an automated Quantix hybrid UAS with integrated true color and multispectral cameras, controller tablet with flight software and Quick-Look maps to conduct in-field assessments, battery and charger, plus the one-year subscription to AV DSS software. Users can also download the AV DSS Survey Mobile App, which allows them to collect and upload georeferenced images and notes automatically to AV DSS.

Hydroid integrating Seaglider AUV Division into its organization

Kongsberg Maritime subsidiary Hydroid Inc. has announced the integration of the Seaglider AUV Division into its organization. Seaglider is being transferred from Kongsberg Underwater Technology Inc. (KUTI), which will allow Hydroid to utilize complementary technologies and markets across the REMUS and Seaglider product lines. With the integration of Seaglider into Hydroid, the range of technical solutions and program management support that can be offered to customers also increases. “We look forward to leveraging the strengths of these advanced technologies to enhance both product lines and offer a more diverse set of solutions to our customers,” says Duane Fotheringham, president of Hydroid. No longer a subsidiary of Hydroid, KUTI will align its business with Kongsberg Maritime Inc. in Houston, Texas. KUTI will continue to provide customers with Full Picture technologies, with a focus on sonars, acoustics, subsea docks and monitoring, and underwater science sensors.

Sharper Shape providing new UAS inspection service for electric utilities

A company that provides UAS-based inspections called Sharper Shape Inc. has announced that electric utilities can now utilize the company’s new automatic detail inspection (ADI) service. The ADI service has completed field trials, and it is available as a “complete end-to-end inspection package.” Companies also have the option of using their own aircraft and personnel, and can use Sharper Shape’s ADI “Drone Software as A Service” to “maximize the efficiency of their in-house drone operations.” “Our new ADI service really minimizes the effort required to capture all the data needed to completely analyze the health of a utility system and to target the problem areas,” says Paul Frey, Sharper Shape’s vice president of sales, via Unmanned Aerial Online. “UAS field crews can get a lot more done each day, with much more predictable and repeatable results.” To start the inspection process, Sharper Shape’s ADI flight planner software automatically creates precise 3D models of powerlines by utilizing LiDAR data. The software uses this geospatial data to create “optimized routes for automatically inspecting utility assets.” To capture images of insulators, wire connections and other critical components at a “close range and from multiple angles,” DJI’s UAS autonomously follow these flight paths, and to cap off the inspection process, these images are uploaded to Sharper Shape’s cloud-based inspector application. Utility personnel can review field data using this platform. Right now, electric transmission and distribution markets are the main markets that the ADI service is being marketed towards for use, but Sharper Shape is working on expanding the service to a broader range of industrial inspection applications. Sharper Shape’s UAS, sensor systems and software services have been developed specifically to handle the requirements of the electric transmission and distribution industry.

Connected Robotics developing robots to free restaurant staff to handle 'more humanistic' side of work

A company called Connected Robotics (CR) that develops specialized robot systems for cooking in restaurant kitchens has announced that it has raised $7.8 million during a Series A investment round. According to CR, the company combines “robot control know-how” collected from robot product development experience in manufacturing along with sensing and learning technology using deep learning, which helps make the robots in the kitchen intelligent. CR says that it wants to develop robot systems that handle the heavy lifting in the kitchen, so that restaurant staff can focus on the “more humanistic” side of work to provide a positive environment for those serving and customers alike.  “I actually worked at a restaurant after graduate school but my health broke down within a year due to overwork from the long hours and heavy manual labor,” says Tetsuya Sawanobori, CEO. “This firsthand experience has made me determined to bring about relief to those in the kitchen by replacing simple and heavy work with robots.” Right not, CR has a “Takoyaki” robot service called “Octo Chef” that uses deep learning to judge the cooking condition of Takoyaki, as well as an automatic soft-serve ice cream robot service called “Reita” in the market. The company says that it will “accelerate research and development toward the productization” of an automatic dishwasher robot service called “Dish Washing System,” “Hot Snack Robots” for convenience stores, and an automatic breakfast cooking robot service “Loraine.” “We decided to invest in Connected Robotics Inc that has such an advanced development of cooking robot technology since we recognize their high marketability,” says Yasuhiko Yurimoto, CEO of Global Brain Corporation, the lead investor of the round.   “We want to support the business growth of Connected Robotics which will in turn contribute to the alleviation of the shortage of human resources in the food and beverage industry and beyond.”