Our team is just back from the shores of Lake Michigan; there, at the McCormick Place exhibition center in the city of Chicago, the annual Xponential event took place. After we
had some rest and got over jet lag, the time to evaluate the results of the trip has come.
Xponential 2019 was dedicated to the latest developments in the sphere of unmanned system technologies. This year, such topics as unmanned transport solutions and military micro-drones that are key for our company have been touched upon. Also, in parallel with the exhibition itself, many conferences have been held at which we had a chance to listen to reports of the industry leaders, to ask them questions of our interest and to negotiate for future cooperation. Applying neuronets and artificial intelligence in unmanned system solutions has been one of this year’s main topics.
Today, developers pay a lot of attention to finding alternative power sources for drones and robots. A large number of manufacturers focused their efforts on using fuel cells. Following the results of the exhibition, it can be stated that in the sphere of UAVs, an active phase of standardizing the architectures applied to build avionics has begun that considerably simplifies the exchange of experience and enhances possibilities for a joint development work between small companies and big market players. UAVs have been increasingly used to fulfill extraordinary and dangerous for human beings tasks, such as monitoring of potentially
explosive facilities of crucial importance.
The major buzz was generated by the Bell company report on the creation of back-up systems for autonomous ‘flying taxis’, one of the concepts of which was represented at the exhibition by a full-size model.
The whole exhibition area was divided into zones. Such industry giants
as Lockheed Martin and Bell had separate locations. Their stands provided an opportunity to become familiar not only with the vehicles themselves and their modules but also with the cloud-based control systems for groups (swarms) of UAVs, the training techniques for pilots as well as with the possibilities of modern ground systems servicing UAV complexes.
Now, let’s go into more detail about this year’s mainstreams.
The first one is hydrogen-based fuel elements; more than 10 manufacturers have shown the solutions for an autonomous application of them. At first sight, these solutions seemed to be
very similar to each other but, after looking more in detail, the differences could be found and very essential at that. However, these differences were based on just one aspect of using this technology: effective heat removal from the cell when it generates electricity. In the majority of cases, different types of air cooling were applied but also very sophisticated solutions of liquid cooling and even a miniaturized full-fledged refrigeration unit have been presented.
A variety of lidar systems of different sizes and application methods was the second point. The software solutions that allow processing obtained data on the run and mapping geo-linked surfaces of the environment of a lidar belonged to their basic packages.
A wide range of software solutions is worth mentioning too. The technologies of self-training neural networks became the highlight of the program. The presented options had a rather remarkable potential and allowed identifying objects with a high probability. How to apply this technology in the area of oil pipeline monitoring was elaborated on the best. Using real-life examples, the possibility to detect leakages of oil products by means of high-resolution cameras installed on a multicopter platform with a high-performance computer system onboard has been demonstrated.
Finally, it is worthwhile mentioning the unprecedented technological progress bringing our
most daring technical dreams closer to reality. Next year, it would be great to see the systems of autonomous vehicles and UAVs already in service that can automatically create missions on their own and to carry them out without the involvement of an operator.
Our company has been represented by its new battlefield complex Sparrow LE developed on
the basis of top circuit and computing systems as well as by the Sparrow complex. Sparrow
has come a long way of establishing itself in troops and proved to be a vehicle able to fulfill tasks of elite forces under any circumstances. It was very pleasant to see the keen interest of Airbus, Lockheed Martin, QinetiQ, Textron, Bell, and Boing experts in our products. Active negotiations and presentations of our solutions have been held nonstop during the exhibition;
for many it, was an introduction to the Ukrainian products of such a high level. We were offered to continue interaction and cooperation. The special interest was shown to the systems of post-flight data analysis from a UAV and vehicle behavior algorithms in the conditions of counteraction to drones.
After summarizing the results of this exhibition, we have got evidence that the development vector our company had chosen and a quality-based approach to the manufacturing process would allow us gaining a firm foothold in the global UAV market. It makes us move into the future with confidence that our products and solutions will definitely find their users not only
in our country but in the entire world.
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