In­situ’s In­no­va­tive Multi-copter Pro­vides More Options for the Un­manned ScanEa­gle

India Strategic - - INDUSTRY -

The de­vice re­sem­bles an octopus, with me­chan­i­cal ten­ta­cles reach­ing in all di­rec­tions, wrap­ping up oth­ers when nec­es­sary. Yet FLARES (Fly­ing Launch and Re­cov­ery Sys­tem) was meant for the sky rather than the sea. It’s the lat­est in­no­va­tion in the rapidly evolv­ing world of un­manned aerial sys­tems, or UAS. Built by Boe­ing sub­sidiary In­situ in Bin­gen, Wash., FLARES is an au­ton­o­mous multi-copter that com­ple­ments the ScanEa­gle, the com­pany’s flag­ship and orig­i­nal un­manned air­craft, by dis­patch­ing it and catch­ing it in flight.

FLARES, with ScanEa­gle teth­ered be­low it (see pic), pro­vides options, said An­drew Hayes, In­situ direc­tor of ad­vanced de­vel­op­ment. It climbs to 500 feet (150 me­ters) and re­leases its fel­low UAS. The process takes less than five min­utes. A ground op­er­a­tor presses a but­ton on a hand­held con­troller and a freed ScanEa­gle sim­ply flies away from FLARES.

On re­trieval, the multi- copter hov­ers in one place and catches the re­turn­ing un­manned air­craft with a 300-foot-long (100-me­ter) cable and gen­tly sets it on the ground. The ScanEa­gle flies into the cable, which slides down the lead­ing edge of the swept wing un­til a wing hook en­gages.

“With FLARES, we can launch any­where,” Hayes said. “This opens up a lot of dif­fer­ent places” - a great im­prove­ment in­deed.

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