NASHVILLE, 20 April 2012. AeroVironment Inc. (NASDAQ:AVAV) has unveiled a miniature, gimbaled sensor payload—combining a high-resolution color and infrared thermal video sensor and a laser illuminator in a multi-axis sphere capable of continuous pan—on the RQ-11B Raven small unmanned aircraft system (UAS).
A gimbaled sensor payload enables a higher level of visual fidelity and continuous observation of an item of interest regardless of the air vehicle’s flight direction. Flight algorithms enable the air vehicle to manage its own flight path based on what the user wants to see, rather than requiring the user to control both the air vehicle and the sensor separately.
The new payload replaces two separate Raven system payloads previously required for day and night operation: one with a stationary electro-optical sensor, the other with a stationary infrared sensor.
The new payload will be a standard component of future Raven systems and available as an upgrade for currently fielded units. Upgrading existing digital Raven systems to accommodate the new payload requires a software update to each air vehicle and ground control station.
The new payload is one of four products in AeroVironment’s “Mantis” suite of gimbaled sensor payloads for commercial applications, including unmanned aircraft systems, manned aircraft, ground vehicles, and watercraft.
“Operators rely on the portable Raven system to provide critical, live aerial video that gives troops situational awareness, whenever and wherever they need it. Our new mini-gimbal payload significantly increases the Raven system’s capability and can be quickly and easily integrated into the thousands of digitally enabled air vehicles already deployed. The net result is a more capable solution for protecting and serving the warfighter for a fraction of the cost of a new system,” says Tom Herring, AeroVironment senior vice president and general manager of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment.