New Sensor Makes First Flight in Small Drone

Two defense companies have successfully tested a wide-area sensor for small drones that can monitor a city-sized area in near real-time.

An Integrator small tactical unmanned aircraft, made by Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing Co., flew earlier this month with Logos Technologies' wide-area motion imagery (WAMI) system, also known as Redkite, according to a Logos release.

The flight marks the first time the WAMI sensor has been carried in an internal payload bay of a small drone.

The new, integrated version of  Redkite is lighter than its predecessor, weighing less than 30 pounds, the release said.

Logos hopes to whittle down its weight even more, to less than 25 pounds, with a goal to be incorporated into drones such as the ScanEagle, RQ-7B Shadow, RQ-21 Blackjack, and other small aircraft in the Defense Department's UAS groups 2 or 3.

"Integrator with Redkite enables an even broader set of missions to aid the warfighter in a complex operational environment," said Pete Kunz, chief technology officer for Insitu.

The Fairfax, Virginia-based company developed the sensor to detect and track "multiple, geographically dispersed targets while also recording events for later analysis," according to a Logos description.

"While the WAMI sensor is flying, multiple users on the ground can select real-time and/or historical video feeds within its expansive coverage area and view them on desktop screens, tablets and other mobile devices," the release said.

The video stream can transmit to more than 10 sensor operators at one time; operators can access either live or recorded data at any given time.

"In the past, we've mounted podded versions of our lightweight WAMI systems to rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft," John Marion, president of Logos Technologies, said in the release. "Now, thanks to further reductions in weight, we can easily fit a Redkite inside a tactical unmanned platform, as demonstrated with our recent flights on the Insitu Integrator."

Logos will showcase a full-size model of the new internal version of Redkite at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference 2017 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, next week.

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