[Talk-co] [Off-topic] UAV Colombia

hyances en gmail.com hyances en gmail.com
Mie Abr 4 17:20:16 BST 2012


Para los interesados en UAV's paso artículo de proyectos en Colombia

http://www.epicos.com/Portal/Main/Home/Pages/ItemDetails.aspx?wIaopCxX2Y%2f7Fa7O5eksTlJc7rdSp9MV282V%2fMjlxy%2bjYaIw5SdeEA%3d%3d

*Interview with Mr. Jaime Escobar, Director of the Navigator X-2 UAV project
*

Published on 04 April 2012

"The main technological advantage is that the Navigator X-2 is capable to
take off from a soccer-sized field in hot and high conditions, without a
launching system. Colombia is one of the countries in Latin America,
located along the Andes. Due to its topography, there are areas where the
elevation can change in a very short distance from almost sea level to
above 4,000 meters (13,000 ft) and average temperatures are between 10 and
20 Celsius degrees above the standard values.."
Mr. Jaime Escobar, Director of the Navigator X-2 UAV project, designed and
developed by the Aerospace Technologies Research Group (AeroTech) of
Universidad de San Buenaventura (USB) gave an exclusive interview to
Epicos, regarding the Navigator X-2 UAV. Amongst others he stated that:
“There is a big potential market for the UAV in Colombia. For example,
exploration activities and production in the country have been increasing
as well as the demand for more infrastructure for oil transportation.
Companies in the industry have shown interest in using the Navigator X-2 to
collect detailed imagery and topography information for pipeline route
planning, construction monitoring, and surveillance”.

-The Aerospace Technologies Research Group (AeroTech) at Universidad de San
Buenaventura (USB) has designed an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Could you
please tell us which are the missions that this UAV can perform?

The oil companies and the Colombian government were using small airplanes
and helicopters (and they still do) for surveillance and inspection of the
pipelines but it is a very risky and expensive task. After talking with a
group of engineers, we came up with the idea of designing and developing an
unmanned aircraft capable of autonomous flight over the pipelines and
streaming live video to a ground station. The UAV Navigator X-2, was
designed with this mission in mind but we have also realized that with
little modifications to the payload, it can be used for geo-referenced
aerial imagery and mapping, early wildfire detection, flood control,
disaster assessment and response, communications relay, crop management,
law enforcement support, and search and rescue.

-Which are the main technological advantages of the UAV? Are there any
innovative elements/ideas that you used in order to develop it?

The main technological advantage is that the Navigator X-2 is capable to
take off from a soccer-sized field in hot and high conditions, without a
launching system. Colombia is one of the countries in Latin America,
located along the Andes. Due to its topography, there are areas where the
elevation can change in a very short distance from almost sea level to
above 4,000 meters (13,000 ft) and average temperatures are between 10 and
20 Celsius degrees above the standard values. Crude and oil products are
transported from the oil fields, usually located in the eastern plains, to
the shores on the other side of the country, crossing across the three
ramifications of the Andes. One of the requirements was that the airplane
has to be able to takeoff from a field near to the pumping stations along
the pipeline with light-support equipment for operation. Since it is not
hard to find a soccer field near the pumping stations or in the towns
nearby, we decided to design the aircraft to be able to takeoff with full
fuel and payload from any of these fields. The prototype has proven to
achieve this goal in less than 100 meters at a density altitude of 3200
meters self-powered by its two engines.

Another technological advantage of the UAV is the twin-engine design in
tandem configuration. It is a redundant system so in the event of an engine
failure the other is able to produce enough power to continue the flight
and return the UAV to base; since thrust is produced by both engines in the
same line, there is no need to compensate the aircraft for asymmetric
thrust if one engine quits. This configuration increases the reliability
and is a basic requirement for the type of mission that is going to
perform.

-Could you please describe its technical specifications? Which are the
payloads that it can carry?

The Navigator X-2 has a maximum takeoff weight of 50 kg (110 lb), can carry
10 kg (22 lb) of payload and 8 kg (18lb) of fuel, fly autonomously for 3
hours with a maximum range of 50km (2nm) with telemetry and real-time video
downlink; it has a wingspan of 5 m (16.4 ft) and a fuselage length of 3.3 m
(10.8 ft); its cruise speed is 83 km/h (45 kts) and stall speed is 40 km/h
(22 kts). The prototype is equipped with two 85cc Desert Aircraft Engines,
but we can install similar engines as required by the final customer and
operator.

The payload on the prototype we are currently using for flight testing
consist of an electro-optical sensor mounted on a two-axis gimbal, the
onboard imaging and video recording equipment, video transmitter, and power
supply.

However, we can accommodate different types of sensors such as specialized
cameras for orthogonal photography, IR sensors, chemo-sensors, lightweight
electro-magnetic sensors and synthetic aperture radars.

-Is there any commercial interest expressed for the UAV? Which are the
potential markets you believe it can reach both in geographical and
sectoral terms (for example agriculture/ defense and security)?

The commercial interest started when we first contacted the main Colombian
Oil Company to talk about the project, but now that the UAV is flying the
interest have become more real.

There is a big potential market for the UAV in Colombia. For example,
surveillance activities and production in the country have been increasing
as well as the demand for more infrastructure for oil transportation.
Companies in the industry have shown interest in using the Navigator X-2 to
collect detailed imagery and topography information for pipeline route
planning, construction monitoring, and surveillance.

A second example is that farmers showed interest on having their crop
mapped with high-resolution, geo-referenced aerial photography for managing
and control purposes, especially for large fields. High resolution aerial
photography is also very useful to detect some diseases like “pudricion del
cogollo” (i.e. a disease leading to the rotting of the tips of the trees),
that have killed many palms trees in Colombia in the past few years; with
more sophisticated electro optical sensors and advance imagery analysis
tools, it is possible to detect the health condition of different types of
plants and even to detect illegal crop fields.

Another potential market for the UAV is the academia; it can be used as a
test bed for new onboard electronic equipment and sensors developed by the
Universidad de San Buenaventura, other universities and research centres in
the country. For instance, researchers at Universidad Nacional are
interested in testing on our UAV a new sensor designed for crop health
monitoring.

-Are there any other similar initiatives currently developed in Colombia?

Yes, there are other similar projects carried out in Colombia. The
Colombian Air Force is currently working on a drone, a bigger airplane that
has higher payload capacity, as well as longer range and endurance. Other
universities like EAFIT and Pontificia Universidad Bolivariana, both
located in Medellin, are working independently on an unmanned helicopter
and on an unmanned fixed-wing vehicle respectively. Some small companies
are also developing small UAVs for civil applications such as aerial
photography and video for publicity.

-Are there any other R&D projects in the Aerospace and defense sectors that
USB is currently developing?

Yes, the University is working on other R&D projects in the aerospace and
defense sectors. One of them is in the design and development of a Micro
Aerial Vehicle (MAV), with an onboard camera system capable of live
streaming video to a portable device on the ground, and easy to operate.
The MAV can be used by military troops to “see over the hill” or over an
obstacle, and by rescue teams to search for people trapped on trees and on
the roof of buildings in the event of a water flood, for example; it is
meant to be manufactured with local and inexpensive materials so it is not
a big deal if it is lost after the mission is accomplished.

Other areas were the research group is focusing in is the use of
Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) for external and internal aerodynamics
analysis. We are working on the numerical simulation of the NASA Trap Wing
model (i.e. a typical configuration of a three element wing of transport
aircraft) for the second CFD AIAA High-Lift Prediction Workshop. The goal
is to assess the capabilities of current-generation CFD codes to predict
aerodynamic forces around this kind of configurations. We are also offering
CFD analysis services to companies that are developing products for the
aerospace and defense sectors in Colombia.

Another project of the Research Group is the design and construction of a
low-cost, light sailplane for recreation purposes. It involves extensive
use of experience gained with the Navigator X-2 in aerodynamics,
structures, materials, flight dynamics, manufacturing, and flight-testing.
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