HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – When you think of drones, you probably think of Amazon’s delivery drones, drones flown for fun, or even News 19’s Sky 19.
But drones can do much more, as the Space and Missile Defense Symposium shows.
The BlueHalo E1250 is built in Huntsville by BlueHalo (formerly Aegis Technologies). The drone has a wingspan of almost 50 inches with two, four and six propeller configurations.
The all-American drone has a top speed of 40 mph in most day-to-day operations, however, BlueHalo officials said it hit 100 mph on a test flight.
The E1250 can fly for 36 minutes at just over 23 mph while carrying a five-pound object.
BlueHalo said the drone can be used in several military and non-military missions, including:
- Fire and rescue
- Forest fires
- Obtaining temperature and wind data in upper levels of the atmosphere
- Test targeting
- Parcel delivery
- Equipment Test
One of those test missions is the High Energy Laser Target Card.
The BlueHalo project is used in the navy, allowing sailors to test and calibrate laser defense equipment on board navy ships.
The Target Board-equipped E1250 takes off, flies just over half a mile from the laser that is being tested or calibrated, and in the case of a warship, follows it as it sails.
The vessel targets the drone and the target board’s detectors obtain data which is transmitted in real time to a station on solid ground or aboard the vessel.
Typically, the data is used to adjust laser power, dot size, or laser aim.
Once the test is complete, the E1250 can be put down manually or automatically.
For automatic landings, the E1250 flies over the ship looking for a special QR code on the deck. Once it sees the code, the E1250 locks onto it and lands on its own.
BlueHalo said the drone successfully landed automatically on board a ship moving at 11.5 mph and while battling a crosswind of 11.5mph – a corresponding speed of 23mph.
BlueHalo Intense Eye Version 2
The BlueHalo Intense Eye Version 2 is also completely built in the USA
It has a top speed of 53mph and the controller has a touchscreen with a moving map display and even serves as a wifi hotspot, allowing the same data on the controller to be displayed in real time on a laptop.
BlueHalo said development for the drone began in February 2021 and was flying within two months.
The drone has a maximum capacity of four pounds and is primarily designed for weather research, but it is also used in simulations of drone attacks.
Company officials said during an army test mission, 40 of the Intense Eyes were fired at the same time to simulate an enemy attack.
On the weather side, the IE-V2 and E1250 can be equipped with a weather sensor that measures the temperature and provides a three-dimensional image of the wind in real time, as well as atmospheric pressure and humidity.
BlueHalo said the sensor could be used around wildfires and provide support to tell firefighters when they can enter and when to withdraw due to a change in wind speed or direction.
Another use envisioned by BlueHalo is to supplement data obtained from weather balloons launched by the National Weather Service (NWS launch sites closest to Huntsville include Atlanta, Birmingham, and Nashville) or universities, colleges, and corporations. private forecasting.
Kratos Defense and Security uses a drone of a different kind.
The Aethon, a six-propeller drone, is attached to a ground control station; the tether powers the drone, while also providing video power and altitude / speed data to the operator.
The Aethon ground control station is typically powered by a generator, often from a military vehicle, allowing extended flights at heights of up to 300 feet.
The Aethon sees several uses for the military:
- Mobile communications – for military radios, mobile phone towers and WiFi
- Bird’s eye view of the battlefield, detect distances, determine friendly and enemy targets
- Low-level analysis – providing additional information on chemical hazards, biohazards, irradiation hazards, explosion hazards and meteorological data
The Aethon is capable of carrying up to 20 lbs, with a maximum total weight of 55 lbs.
In addition, the Aethon has a parachute capable of bringing the aircraft to the ground safely in the event of a power failure, even at its maximum weight.
The Aethon also has a stabilized gimbal camera, which adjusts in real time as the drone moves to keep a stable image; many of our viewers have seen gimbal cameras in action on Sky 19.
The camera can zoom in close enough that an object 20 feet from the ground control station is looking one foot away on Aethon’s video feed.
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