Investigation of capabilities and technologies supporting rapid UAV launch system development
Livesay, Patrick Alan
Chung, Timothy H.
Jones, Kevin D.
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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are playing progressively more complex roles in private, commercial, and military applications. One developing mission set of interest to entities in the governmental and defense sectors is UAV swarming: a concept of unit deployment where individuals exhibit complex behaviors when acting as members of a group that are not observed when those units act in isolation. While several barriers exist, one capability gap that must be bridged for fixed-wing systems is the ability to facilitate operationally relevant sortie generation rates. While creating systems mechanically capable of high launch rates is key, there are supporting capabilities that should be considered during the design of UAV launch systems to increase usability and margin to safety. Integration with existing control systems, detection and response to environmental changes, safety interlocks, and software can help achieve these goals and produce a more robust launcher. This report focuses on the identification, selection, and development of such capabilities, which are implemented into launch systems through an iterative prototyping process. Ultimately, a new UAV launch system is created and demonstrated through operational experimentation: one capable of high launch rates, integration with existing control systems, and additional sensors-based capabilities that have heretofore never been seen.
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