DPI UAV Systems Presenting on Communications via Tethered UAS from US Navy Ships and Small Craft

PHILADELPHIA, PA – July 9, 2020 – DPI UAV Systems (Dragonfly Pictures, Inc.), the leader in tethered unmanned aerial systems (drones), announced today that it successfully performed a demonstration of its tethered UAS, the Unmanned Multirotor Aerial Relay (UMAR) , from a US Navy ship in early April 2020.

DPI will be presenting a paper on this topic titled “Tethered UAS Launch and Recovery from Ships and Small Craft: Challenges and Opportunities” during the American Society of Naval Engineers Virtual Launch and Recovery Symposia on July 16, 2020.

Many ship communication systems are limited by the curvature of the earth and can only communicate to the visual horizon, which is typically less than ten miles. This reduces effective range of unmanned boats, buoys, and other offboard sensors. Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) with tethers are proving viability in providing continuous, sustained Beyond Line of Site (BLOS) communications. The tether provides continuous power and command/control to the UAS, thereby vastly increasing mission duration. Tethered UAS reduce operator workload and mission planning thereby enabling host ship and the offboard asset to communicate farther. Tethered UAS also increase host ship maneuverability by not being limited by wind or forward travel.

Tethered UAS can automatically fly above and follow ships to provide BLOS communications. However, there are significant obstacles and challenges. The presentation will focus on the use of the systems and sensors to safely operate from ships to keep sailors safe. Ship obstructions, such as masts, antennas, helicopter operations (takeoff & landing), and other obstacles provide hazards during flight. Multiple real-world technologies have been implemented, tested, and evaluated that allow for safe ship operation and deconfliction.  

Furthermore, these new technologies can help land on heaving, rolling ship and boat platforms of various sizes. Actual test results and video will be presented of autonomously launching/recovering tethered UAS onto various size ship and boat decks.

UMAR can host a variety of sensors including cameras, radar, and weather data can be collected at altitude for an extended duration. DPI has tested its tethered UAS systems on various vessels from 45 ft US Coast Guard vessels, US Navy ships, and US Army ground platforms.

The UMAR system provides simple control with just up and down buttons.  Unlike an aerostat/blimp there is no helium required, thereby reducing operational costs. 

About DPI UAV Systems (Dragonfly Pictures, Inc.)

DPI was founded in 1992 by Michael W. Piasecki. With a background in helicopters and camera stabilization techniques, Mr. Piasecki’s focus for DPI was on designing and building small, cost-effective autonomous unmanned helicopters that could carry image, communication, and logistics payloads. DPI has specifically focused on supporting the Department of Defense in advanced research within the vertical takeoff and landing UAS space. Previous customers have included the US Army, Navy, DARPA, and Boeing, to name a few.