Insitu Debuts ScanEagle3 at Xponential 2018


Insitu Debuts ScanEagle3 at Xponential 2018


Insitu Debuts ScanEagle3 at Xponential 2018


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What we’re about

Unmanned Systems have challenged the notion of “possible” since the industry was born circa World War I. Like our agile industry, Insitu has changed and grown constantly since our inception in the early 1990s. Though we have outgrown the garage from which our first UAVs were produced, our passionate team strives to embody the original entrepreneurial spirit, ethics and vision that our founders established two decades ago and continue to drive our innovation and vitality today and onward.

We empower our global customers to make the best, most informed decisions possible. We do this by creating industry-leading integrated systems that collect, process and distribute information for decision-makers.

Team Insitu is driven by four pillars.


Our pioneering spirit is derived from a genuine passion for what we do and an intention to remain at the forefront of change in this dynamic industry, constantly raising the standards and pushing the boundaries. For our blog, this pillar represents leading technology developments that drive the Unmanned Systems industry.


This category encompasses industry developments that inspire and challenge our team to deliver the most effective and efficient solutions possible, and pivot quickly when our customers need us to.


Our team stands together, made only stronger by our diversity in thought and location. This synergy encompasses not only those within our company, but also our customers, aviation regulators, industry thought-leaders, and countless others whose contributions collectively and constantly drive us to think bigger.


As a global company, we are fortunate to be a part of many diverse communities. Some of these communities revolve around where we are, while others are inherent to what we do. Regardless of how we relate, Team Insitu values and supports each community member, and embraces the uniqueness that each one brings to our culture and industry.



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Raising the Bar

Expertise provided by Jeff Knapp, Chief Engineer

Written by Sierra Bentz

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.

A new 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.

Power Management

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.

Energy Storage

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.

The point of all this

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.

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