Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EXTREMDRON (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for protecting soft/critical urban infrastructures, and the general public in extreme environments.)
Reporting period: 2016-04-01 to 2016-07-31
The commercial UAVs available on the market today, do not have the capability nor the technologies developed to operate in extreme environments (fires, nuclear radiation, EMF/EMR). The limitations of these UAV products are the following:
• The materials used are not suited for high temperature operating environments. These UAVs have structural temperature limitations (<140C) that are not suited for operations in close proximity to fires.
• The aircraft structures are not designed with an electromagnetic/radiation shielding barrier to protect the onboard electronics systems.
• The high temperature composite materials and resins are not specifically designed to address both high temperatures and radiation requirements.
• The aircrafts flight envelope is not designed to fly in high temperature and low density air.
• The aircrafts are not designed to incorporate an onboard cooling system so that the electronics and payloads do not exceed the operating temperature limits.
The UAV products available have been designed for either the hobby market, or professional applications that do not require flight operations in extreme conditions. The EXTREMDRON project will address these technology voids, and will produce a fully functional prototype that can be evaluated during the validation phases.
> Why is it important for society?
There is an urgent need for an aerial monitoring and sensing aircraft focused on the protection of heavily populated areas and critical/soft infrastructures during extreme situations and environments. AERDRON’s proposal ‘EXTREMDRON’ focuses on creating a next generation UAV for aerial monitoring applications in extreme operating environments (fire, nuclear radiation, EMF/EMR, chemical). This particular UAV mission niches have not been successfully addressed by any products currently on the market, and there is a real world need voiced from industries and government agencies. The EXTREMDRON provides an aerial monitoring platform for security agencies to analyze data, identify threats, and measure dangerous airborne substances in areas which may be rendered hazardous or inhabitable. The EXTREMDRON provides a means to identify and quantify these dynamic threats by rapidly deploying an UAV aircraft to areas under distress.
> What are the overall objectives?
The EXTREMDRON main project objective is to upgrade our existing ED1 EXTREMDRON UAV aircraft so that it can operate in extreme conditions to provide critical real time data to save lives and protect soft/critical infrastructures. The secondary objectives are to develop new material technologies, aircraft structures, and support systems that are needed to operate in these extreme environments.
During Phase I, we learned that we needed to upgrade the technologies on our existing ED1 EXTREMDRON so that it can operate at very high temperatures >140C to fly in the proximity of fires. The EXTREMDRON structure will require the addition of high temperature proprietary formulated hybrid composite materials to maintain structural integrity and protect the onboard electronics and payloads against fire and radiation damages.
During the Phase I feasibility study, AERDRON contracted Sonic Composites to investigate feasibility of adapting composite materials that can withstand high heat, radiation and provide electromagnetic shielding. AERDRON concluded that developing these hybrid materials is manageable and feasible per the feedback received from Sonic Composites. A detailed design and testing program would be required during Phase II so that requirements are validated for each of the extreme mission environments.
Aircraft Configuration and Physical Scale
During the Phase I feasibility study, we learned that our current ED1 EXTREMDRON will need to be modified from a multirotor (helicopter type) design to a fixed wing aircraft. A multirotor design will not have the required flight duration, payload capacity, stability, nor the performance required at high ambient temperatures to provide sufficient thrust to sustain flight. A fixed wing aircraft with a high lift to drag ratio could sustain flight with a fraction of the power required when compared to a multirotor. The detail design modifications of the ED2 EXTREMDRON will be conducted during the Phase II engineering phases. AERDRON believes these design modifications will ensure the project’s success and are feasible.
>> Payload Sensor Technologies, Laser Bomb Detector
AERDRON researched the latest explosive sensor technologies during the Phase I feasibility study. We learned that university researchers have developed an advanced bomb detection technique that uses lasers capable of detecting chemicals used in explosives. AERDRON contacted the university (Michigan State), and was told that these sensors could be miniaturized to fit aboard an UAV. In phase I, we concluded that the EXTREMDRON UAV would be a perfect aerial platform for researchers to test and validate the detection capabilities in a real world application. In phase II, we plan to adapt this new sensor technology to fit aboard our ED2 EXTREMDRON.
During phase I, we learned about updates to U.S. regulations, which are a major milestone and confirm that the market is opening and adapting to the usage of commercial UAVs and new applications. AERDRON believes the EXTREMDRON project will not face any regulatory, or certification blockages due to the size, and class of the of the aircraft platform. During Phase II, AERDRON will hire an UAV regulatory consultant to advice on legal and marketing issues for each country the EXTREMDRON will pursue commercialization. AERDRON concluded that local/global UAV regulations will not pose any road blocks to the operations or commercialization of the EXTREMDRON.
During the Phase I feasibility research, AERDRON performed a freedom to operate study (patent search) and the preliminary analysis showed there was no IP (intellectual property) conflicts. During Phase II, a more advanced patent search will be performed to protect each of the invention claims (materials, manufacturing methods). AERDRON intellectual property (IP) protection strategy will include filing for patent protection for any derived inventions yielded from the EXTREMDRON project in Europe and USA. AERDRON will consult with a patent attorney to ensure maximum IP protection and that we are not infringing on any known patents. AERDRON concluded that the EXTREMDRON project has a high chance of being awarded several patents.
>> Market Analysis
Funding for the Phase I feasibility study allowed us to attend Xponential 2016, the largest unmanned systems show in the world. The event took place from May 2nd - 5th in New Orleans and it showcased more than 600 exhibitors and attracted over 8.000 industry leaders and professionals from more than 55 countries. During the show, we studied the key trends and identified industry opportunities to formulate our market analysis. We conducted a competitor product analysis against the performance characteristics of the EXTREMDRON and we concluded that the EXTREMDRON has a distinct market advantage in terms of performance characteristics and applied material and sensor technologies. AERDRON believes these technology advantages will have a distinct market advantage over our competitors and ensure a successful commercialization of the EXTREMDRON.
>> Business Plan
During the Phase I feasibility study, AERDRON contracted a consultant to develop a preliminary business plan. The consultant identified four possible business models for the EXTREMDRON (shown in the table below). Each of the business models will be studied and defined in much greater detail during the Phase II project activities. The consultant focused on the direct customer sales option to estimate the financial forecasts.
AERDRON plans to focus on the direct customer sales option for the first two years of sales to recover the NRE (Non Reoccurring Costs) and to work with customers directly. The customers would buy the EXTREMDRON and receive the training and licensing needed to operate per local regulations.
After conducting the Phase I feasibility study for the EXTREMDRON, AERDRON believes there is a great business opportunity and market demand for the project proposed. The EXTREMDRON is innovative in that it will develop advanced materials, structures, and payloads to operate in extreme conditions for security and defense applications. This market niche has not been exploited yet by our competitors.
The market demand has been validated by the sales of a competitor’s product that has less mission capabilities of the EXTREMDRON. Potential customers that have been interviewed have provided positive feedback and are willing to evaluate the EXTREMDRON during a flight demonstration. AERDRON believes the market has not been exploited yet for an UAV with the capabilities of the EXTREMDRON. The EXTREMDRON has the advantage of being first to market in the EU. AERDRON believes the EXTREMDRON UAV will have a significant market impact and will provide enhanced security capabilities to European Union citizens, and soft/critical infrastructures.
During the Phase I feasibility study, AERDRON investigated the technology upgrades (materials, aerodynamics, aircraft structures, support systems, and heat dissipation systems) that are required to operate in extreme environments. The ED2 structure will utilize proprietary developed high temperature radiation shielding composite panels to maintain structural integrity and to reflect radiation. None of the commercial UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) products available would protect the structure, electronics, and payloads against these extreme conditions.
The EXTREMDRON can be deployed for bomb detection missions to pinpoint the location of explosives in urban and critical infrastructure locations. In phase II, the EXTREMDRON project will adapt new sensor technologies that use lasers to detect and identify explosive compounds. The EXTREMDRON is innovative in that it will develop advanced materials, aircraft structures, and payload systems to operate in extreme conditions for security and defense applications. This market niche has not been exploited yet by our competitors.
AERDRON believes the EXTREMDRON UAV will have a significant socio-economic market impact and will provide enhanced security capabilities to European Union, and increase protection of soft/critical infrastructures. The EXTREMDRON provides an aerial monitoring platform for security agencies to analyze data, identify threats, and measure dangerous airborne substances in areas which may be rendered hazardous or inhabitable. The EXTREMDRON provides a means to identify and quantify these dynamic threats by rapidly deploying an UAV aircraft to areas under distress.