Strategic Elements Ltd (ASX:SOR) will collaborate with a leading US-based Autonomous Drone technology company to enable drones to autonomously launch and land from a ground-based autonomous vehicle platform (AxV).
SOR subsidiary Stealth Technologies, which is developing the AxV, has signed an agreement with Planck AeroSystems to advance the collaboration.
Vision-based precision landing
Planck’s core enabling technology is vision-based precision landing on moving platforms without GPS.
In sectors such as security, defence and resources drones can augment ground-based cameras and sensors to provide additional range, multi-angle coverage and additional critical data (eg thermal imaging).
ASV being developed
Stealth Technologies is developing an Autonomous Security Vehicle (ASV) for perimeter security in sectors such as transport, energy, defence, government and utilities providing critical services.
This technology is aimed at the Global Perimeter Security Market, which is forecast to grow quickly at CAGR of 12% over the forecast period from 2020-2026, reaching US$282.26 billion by 2025.
As part of its priority focus, Stealth has an exclusive collaboration with giant US Fortune 100 Company Honeywell International Inc (NYSE:HON) to build autonomous security vehicles for the correctional justice sector.
The parties are working with the WA Department of Justice to build a fully autonomous robotic security vehicle for the Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison in Kalgoorlie to inspect, test and confirm the integrity of the secure perimeter.
SOR shares were as much as 26% higher to 14.5 cents yesterday.
The new Stealth and Planck collaboration will focus on enabling the ASV to launch and land drones.
This ability would enable the long runtimes of the ASV to be combined with the high speed of drones.
Drones could be launched from the ASV at any time whilst on patrol, effectively doubling the ASV’s surveillance coverage capabilities and could also recharge once landed on the ASV and be relaunched.
In addition, the unique perspectives of the ASV and its drone can be combined to give an expanded patrol and surveillance dataset, enable more powerful AI use cases for mapping, navigation, object and person recognition, object and person tracking and scene reasoning.
The parties will also assess the potential of integrating mobile tethered drones with the ASV.
This will give additional deployment options for drone-equipped ASVs to work at facilities near to controlled airspaces and at those that have safety requirements that would normally preclude drone operation, such as airports and energy facilities.
Traditional ground-tethered drones can only fly in a single location, however, drones tethered from the ASV could be mobile and move with the ASV whilst airborne.
Autonomous Control Engine system
The Planck Autonomous Control Engine (ACE™) system is an embedded software solution that runs onboard a variety of unmanned aircraft systems to enable autonomous launch, recovery, relative navigation, and mission planning from a moving vehicle.
With centimetre-level accuracy for precision take-off and landing, a drone can launch and recover reliably from small spaces.
The sensor-guided flight accounts for motion of a vessel or ground vehicle, including roll, pitch, heave and wind effects.
Deployed in US agencies
ACE is deployed in five US federal agencies and with two allied nations and the ACE system has commanded thousands of successful UAS sorties both at sea and from vehicles, on aircraft from many different manufacturers.
Planck is working with the US Department of Defense’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), the US Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security on various aspects of its technology.
The precision landing system uses computer vision, artificial intelligence and other onboard sensors but does not require GPS or active communications.
Existing unmanned aircraft systems use global positioning and are not capable of autonomous operation from moving vehicles.
Planck’s intelligent navigation solutions enable new capabilities for surveillance, reconnaissance, real-time situational awareness, and force protection.
Key terms of the agreement:
- Planck Aero will provide ACE technology for integration into Stealth autonomous vehicles and any other technologies agreed by the parties. Term of the Collaboration is 6 months;
- The parties will explore commercial, industrial and defence applications and opportunities;
- Plank grants Stealth a royalty-free, non-exclusive, licence to use software for the purposes of the collaboration for duration of the term; and
- Stealth will pay to Planck Aero for any hardware provided under the project. Any further payments will be as agreed between the parties from time to time.