Alpha Unmanned Systems, a Spain-based designer and manufacturer of remotely piloted gasoline-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) helicopters, has been selected to participate in Inmarsat´s UAV Pop-up lab.
Alongside six other UAV companies, Alpha will execute a range of missions using Inmarsat´s global satellite network, “enabling beyond line of sight operations and global resilient command and control capability for safer and more efficient flight operations”, it said.
The UAV Pop-up lab is a unique innovation programme exploring the value of satcoms in the commercial UAV sector, according to the company.
“As part of the Pop-up Lab, Alpha Unmanned Systems will integrate the Inmarsat connectivity services using the Cobham AVIATOR UAV 200 terminal on to its Alpha 800,” Alpha said.
The Alpha 800 is a tactical gasoline powered helicopter UAV that provides three hours of continuous flight with a 3 kg payload, according to the company. It is equipped with the “lightest and strongest airframe in its class” and a military-grade autopilot with high precision GPS and sensors, Alpha said. Originally conceived for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, it is now also used for many other services, including delivery of urgently needed supplies.
Using this equipment and services, Alpha will execute a beyond visual line of sight mission to deliver urgent medical supplies in a limited/no radio-frequency coverage area. The mission will use Inmarsat satcoms to enable long-range control and real-time video streaming from the Alpha 800 tactical helicopter UAV, aiding the precise delivery of sensitive cargo such as medical supplies, Alpha said. “The three-hour flight time of the Alpha 800 means that a very large area can be covered, and its vertical take-off and landing capabilities allow for very precise control during missions.”
The company continued: “Inmarsat´s satellite technology brings tremendous benefits for UAV missions in remote areas with poor terrestrial network coverage or rough terrains where radio line-of-sight is hard to achieve. Utilising Inmarsat’s global L-band network, the Alpha 800 will be easily deployed to execute missions anywhere in the globe, ideal for humanitarian agencies and governments with a need for precision delivery of sensitive, time-critical cargo in remote areas.”
Jordan Picard, Digital Incubation Lead at Inmarsat, said: “We are delighted to work with companies such as Alpha Unmanned Systems to push the boundaries of innovation in the commercial UAV sector.”
Trial outcomes will be presented at a showcase event on May 30, 2019 at Inmarsat’s headquarters.