Just as the automobile industry was born from a demand for transportation, the unmanned systems industry was derived from a need for another intangible yet essential commodity: information. If you’ve done your research, then you know that our products and services enable you to gather information from difficult-to-reach or even hostile locations. This means that our products must be highly reliable, durable, agile and safe to operate, so you can focus on the mission at hand. To meet those needs, we evaluate our resources and we collaborate to provide a solution.
Our ScanEagle is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), known for its graceful balance of high performance and practicality. We are honored to provide you with this revolutionary technology…yet we couldn’t stop there. Our team continues to collaborate with the industry’s brightest minds to conceptualize and create a new version of this system for you: the electric ScanEagle*, a system that once again redefines the limits of our industry.
Each new feature on the electric ScanEagle contributes to enhanced efficiency, reliability and flexibility for you. I’ll explain a few of the key improvements in more detail.
With the contributions of Boeing’s Experimental Systems Group, we have equipped the electric ScanEagle with a highly sophisticated power management system, derived from electric actuation technology for other aircraft, and applied to a UAV context. “This motor control system works similarly to the left and right side of a human brain, in that one side of the circuit board controls only the electric motor, while the other side controls power distribution and makes immediate decisions for where that power should be allocated,” explains Jeff Knapp, Insitu’s chief engineer on the project. This sophisticated power management technology, in conjunction with augmented efficiencies on the aircraft, gives you the flexibility to choose how to distribute extra power based on your mission’s specific priorities.
The low-inductance electric motor that we’ve incorporated into the aircraft allows us to tune its operation to your needs. Your aircraft is more agile, while increasing the amount of power supplied to the rest of the vehicle, as this is provided independently by the fuel cell. The electric motor, with its single moving part, is expected to yield a substantial increase in system reliability as well as a significant reduction in operating costs.
We have been working closely with Dr. Jacob Leachman’s team at Washington State University as they design and produce a vapor cooled shielded (VCS) tanking system for cryogenic (really cold liquid) hydrogen, which we plan to incorporate into the electric ScanEagle. For the tech geeks out there, here’s how this works: the gaseous hydrogen boiling off the cold liquid hydrogen will be managed by a sensor board on the ScanEagle; if the aircraft is not using the gas fast enough, it will simply escape over the side. If we have higher consumption needs, the sensor board will ask the power management board to apply heat to the liquid, causing more hydrogen to boil off, giving the aircraft more fuel to work with. VCS leverages Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principal to minimize insulation. It sounds pretty complicated, however this balancing act is an efficient and automatic system, leaving you free to focus on the information the aircraft is gathering.
Our electric ScanEagle system* is pretty astounding, and I encourage you to ask questions if you want to know more about it, but there’s something much bigger going on here than just the innovation in our aircraft.
Our industry saw a need for something new – specifically, a safe and reliable UAV that offered high torque control, high frequency control functions, and extremely high efficiency operations. Innovative teams in the unmanned systems industry joined forces to create a product that raises the bar higher than we imagined it could go. We’re part of an industry that’s full of inspired teams that refuse to back down from a challenge…and that’s some pretty thrilling stuff to be a part of.
Please note that the electric ScanEagle is still in development stages, as we continue to refine and perfect the technology. This product is not yet available for purchase.