By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
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November 13, 2012
Last updated on 11/21/12.
Back in June, DefenseReview (DR) published a piece on the BCB/AAI SQ-4 RECON quad-rotor MAV/S-UAS/UAV (Micro Air Vehicle/Unmanned Aerial System/Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), which we ran across at NDIA Special Operations Forces Industry Conference 2012 (SOFIC 2012). Well, that little guy would appear to have some serious competition from the AeroVironment (AV) Shrike VTOL MAV/SUAS and Datron Scout Air Reconnaissance System (ARS) SUAS/MAV, both quad-rotors, as well. It's possible that DR shot some photos of the AV Shrike at SOFIC, but we have actual photos and video clips of the Datron Scout ARS actually flying.
Defense Review got the opportunity to do this at HALO Counter-Terrorism Summit 2012 in San Diego. The weather there offered perfect flight conditions for the Scout MAV, so the Datron team did a lot of flying. The first thing DR noticed about the Scout was that it looked good. Believe it or not, when it comes to tactical equipment, looks matter. But, a $100,000 quad-rotor MAV also has to perform. After all, that's not chump-change for a mini-UAS/UAV, but the Scout ARS would appear to offer a lot of performance in a small package.
First, being small, the Scout ARS SUAS is lightweight and backpackable/manpackable. Second, since it's a quad-rotor, it's hyper-maneuverable. Third, it gives you the following payload options: Photo3S high resolution Daylight/near IR camera, VideoZoom 10x Optical Zoom Camera, and/or FLIR 640 or FLIR 320 IR camera. Fourth, it's rugged. Fifth, it's quick and easy to assemble and deploy (and disassemble). And, finally, the Scout is autonomous/semi-autonomous, and therefore easy to operate and utilize. The Datron Scout Aerial Reconnaissance System package also comes with a very cool and fairly intuitive remote control tablet.
LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing asked a very good question while the Datron team was showing him the Scout ARS. He asked if the Scout could be flown through a window into a building during a tactical operation and continue to be controlled by the operator. The Datron team's answer was, essentially, "not yet". DefenseReview subsequently mentioned to the Datron team that the Scout should be modified to allow an instant switch to manual control (and back to semi-autonomous/autonomous control) by the operator for just such a scenario, and that the remote-control communications system be optimized for building penetration missions. The Datron rep was open/receptive to it.
Chief Downing struck DR as a sharp and knowledgeable individual with regard to tactical operations, particularly for such high-ranking officer. He surprised us (positively), actually, . He was also approachable and personable, which was also a pleasant surprise. Bottom line, he impressed us.
And, so did the Datron Scout ARS. It's one very slick little quad-rotor eye in the sky when you need aerial surveillance and intelligence in a hurry, and you need to be able to carry it on your back. From what DR observed, the Scout works as advertised and can potentially make a positive difference in a tactical or counterterrorism operation. At approx. $100,000 for the package, it's not inexpensive, but if it helps to save just one hostage or law enforcement (LE) SWAT operator, it's worth it, in our opinion.
DR noticed the Scout ARS flying overhead during a number of tactical military counterterrorism demonstrations/exercises at HALO, so the Datron team may have been shooting surveillance footage during them. ;
DefenseReview doesn't yet have any comparative analysis data or comparative operator feedback on the Datron Scout ARS versus the AV Shrike versus the BCB/AAI SQ-4 RECON, but we're certainly interested in getting some.
In the meantime, check out the video clips below to see the Scout ARS fly and the remote control tablet demo.
The following Scout ARS information comes from the Datron website:
"Scout Air Reconnaissance System
The Datron Scout Air Reconnaissance System is a small, rugged and lightweight unmanned Micro Air Vehicle designed to capture and transmit high quality video and images in the field. The Scout’s mobility as a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle affords it the ability to silently hover and stare at any point of interest, without the need for a fixed launch or landing platform. A robust design coupled with snap together assembly makes the Scout a perfect fit for missions in a broad range of environments where measuring time in seconds will matter.
– Vertical take off and landing (VTOL)
– Hover & stare
– Intelligent camera targeting
– Stream real-time digital video to any device
– Quiet and covert
– Completely GPS, touch-screen controlled
– Hot-swappable payloads
– Missions beyond line of sight or at night
– Intelligent battery technology"
The following information comes from the Scout ARS data sheet:
The Datron Scout is a small, man-portable, ruggedized unmanned aerial System designed to capture and transmit high quality video and images. the Scout’s mobility as a vertical take-off and landing (VtoL) vehicle affords it the ability to silently hover and stare at any point of interest, without the need for a fixed launch or landing platform. With a snap together, tool-less assembly, the system is easily man-portable and capable of rapid deployment. a weather-proof design allows the Scout to operate in windy, wet, dusty, hot and cold environments. With only four small electric motors and an operational weight of 1.3 kilograms the system is extremely quiet and difficult to spot, allowing for covert operations in the field.
The Scout is built with a highly intuitive and intelligent design, tailored to meet the needs of any soldier, officer or civilian. the key to this ease of use is the touch-screen control interface; simply designate a point of interest and the system will handle the rest. this interface allows the user to fly beyond the line of sight or at night, extending missions where joystick controlled systems are limited. Intelligent fault handling ensures that automatic corrections are made for unexpected problems: loss of communications link, excessive wind-speeds or low in-flight battery levels. automatic pre-flight checks similarly ensure that your system is capable of healthy deployment before takeoff. With operational details handled by the intelligent on-board systems within the Scout, the user is free to focus on the mission, not the technology.
The modular design of the Datron Scout allows it to meet the needs of a variety of missions. a quick change payload interface allows the user to rapidly exchange camera systems for different missions. Daylight and thermal gimbaled cameras are available, while the payload interface allows custom payloads to be designed quickly for specific user-defined missions.
The Scout’s all digital software interface provides the user a level of interoperability and autonomy that dramatically increases mission effectiveness. a network-ready IP based interface allows the system to integrate with command and control centers as well as multicast/ simulcast real-time data. Software upgrades are easily installed over a wireless network and continually provide user defined enhancements. Scout is connected over a digital, encrypted ad-hoc network, ensuring communications and data security.
Military, law, fire or civilian – the Datron Scout provides tactical aerial intelligence for your mission needs.
– Vertical Take off and Landing (VTOL)
– Quiet and Covert
– GPS (DGPS and WAAS capable) controlled by built-in GUI
– Hot Swappable Payloads
– Intelligent Imagery – Embedded Metadata/Geotags
– 3 axis Gimbaled EO/IR Digital Camera Payloads
– Missions Beyond the Line of Sight and at Night
– Intelligent Battery Technology
– All Digital Network
Datron Scout General Specifications:
Operational Range: Up to 3 km (1.86 miles)
Operational Duration: Up to 20 minutes (depending on payload)
Operational Ceiling: Up to 500m (1,640 ft.) above ground level (AGL)
Operational Temperature: -30c to +50c
Operational Weight: Approximately 1.3 kg (2.6 lbs.)
Ground Speed: 50 km/h (30 mp/h)
Max Wind Speed: Up to 50 km/h (31 mp/h) – gusts up to 80 km/h
Dimensions: 80 cm x 80 cm x 20 cm (31.5” x 31.5” x 7.87”)
Power Source: Intelligent Lithium Polymer Smart Battery
Communications: Wireless modem and/ or 802.11 b/g WiFi
IMU: Custom design (15+ sensors)
GPS Capability: WAAS, EGNOS, MSAS, GAGAN capable
Autonomy: GPS waypoint profiles, fail-safe return home
Payload Options: Photo3S high resolution Daylight/near IR camera VideoZoom 10x Optical Zoom Camera, FLIR 640 or FLIR 320 IR camera Custom Designs"
Company Contact Info:
Aeryon Labs Inc.
60 Bathurst Drive, Unit 1
Waterloo ON N2V 2A9
Phone: 519-489-6726 (Customer Support: Ext. 310, Sales: Ext. 320)
Email Info: [email protected]
Email Sales: [email protected]
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