Deploying multi-sensor unmanned aerial systems for maritime surveillance

FARNBOROUGH, England – Another Farnborough International News Network (FINN) educational session at Farnborough International Show provided a look at how unmanned aerial systems (UAS) with multi-sensor payloads can be used for maritime surveillance applications.

Jul 19th, 2018
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FARNBOROUGH, England – Another Farnborough International News Network (FINN) educational session at Farnborough International Show provided a look at how unmanned aerial systems (UAS) with multi-sensor payloads can be used for maritime surveillance applications.

The idea, explained Ricardo Mendes, CEO, Tekever, is to use UAS to complement maritime surveillance, as satellites have limited availability and vessels have limited range.

"The issue is that, if you could afford enough vessels, or manned planes, or satellites, the problem would be solved," he said. "But this is just not affordable or sustainable. So, this is where we see UAVs coming in. We see more and more countries seeing the same thing."

To accomplish missions including search and rescue, maritime surveillance, and maritime patrol, Tekever combines and uses the right sensors to be effective. Payload options include a five-sensor gyro-stabilized gimbal, multiple visual and infrared sensors, an automatic identification system (AIS), a maritime radar, and a synthetic aperture radar.

Additionally, Tekever has noted that its UAS need to be able to fly far enough, at certain speeds. The AR5 UAS from Tekever flies for 12 hours, carrying all payloads, with high-throughput SATCOM for video, data, etc. The UAV system also uses ground and onboard algorithms for detection of objects such as oil spills.

"Essentially, the UAVs are ‘computers with wings’ that combine powerful artificial intelligence onboard with human experts on the ground," said Mendes.

Each day at 2 PM at the show, Tekever offered a live stream from ongoing operations—both exercises and actual deployments—over the Atlantic Ocean. When I visited the booth, guests could control the payload of the AR5 UAS and zoom in on cars and even number plates off the coast of Portugal.

Currently, the Tekever AR5 is providing maritime surveillance services as part of a two-year framework worth as much as 77 million Euros with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). The drone is providing maritime services in support of the EU Coastguard and environmental protection activities.

Now commercially available, the AR5 is an ITAR-free UAS with dual engines that features automatic take-off and landing and the ability to take off and land from short, unpaved runways.

View more information on the AR5 drone.

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