This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)
Civilian hovering drones for enthusiasts, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) adapted for simple civilian test can nowadays be bought straight off the shelf, at prices starting at mere hundreds of dollars.
Nevertheless, drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) which meet the demanding specifications of special military units, which operate in complex operations in highly challenging terrains – are not so easy to find. Flying Production from Kfar Saba meets this challenge head-on.
Veterans of Israel’s defense companies which manufacture drones as well as Israeli Air Force squadrons specializing in flying them, company managers and employees are highly familiar with this highly multifaceted field, which comprises avionics, electronics, software, energy supply and no less important, strategy – all of which are required for operating UAVs and UASs properly and successfully.
What is it that sets apart a drone suitable for civilian use from a UAV designated for military intelligence missions? It seems that Da Vinci [so named due to its resemblance to a drawing by the renowned renaissance man] multi rotor system, a UAV hexacopter, by Flying Production from Israel puts it in a nutshell. It has an endurance of 90 minutes and engine redundancy, guaranteeing continued flight during its mission, in the case one of its six engines is incapacitated, using the remaining five.
Da Vinci was developed and manufactured with military operations in mind, so it has a low “logistic footprint” and low weight. It is portable and highly mobile, as befitting unique operational scenarios.
Flying Production features two communication solutions for the interface between command and control and the drone. The first, which is based on technology developed by MobileCom from Israel, is more suitable for urban environments. It relies on LTE and features Non Line of Sight. The second solution is advanced link featuring encryption and frequency-hopping, developed by Commtact, which is also an Israeli company. Da Vinci features this solution as well, thereby boasting safe command and control, including in unique operations.
Da Vinci’s fuselage can be integrated with sensors, such as CONTROP’s M-STUMP dedicated payloads for day and night applications, which is renowned for its world-class advanced electro-optic solutions.
The compact “Astronomy” ground control station is based on a Panasonic ruggedized tablet pc. The software, exclusively developed by Flying Production, is highly user-friendly and easy to use, integrating unique features hitherto known only in the world of large platforms such as fly-by-camera, advanced alert systems and mission without communication link, in addition to multiple control and display modes it offers its users. “Astronomy” comes complete with all the solutions for autonomous operation, from energy supply, to links to interfacing systems, antennae, tripod, etc.
The software, along with the other operational and logistic aspects, was developed so that learning how to operate Da Vinci and preparing to use it should not take more than 10 days.
Da Vinci weighs 12kg, has a controlled flight range of 10km, and has a speed of 45kmh. It features VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) as well as predefine waypoint navigation complete with in-flight course-correction in case of operational or technical issues.
Flying Production’s engineers are already working on Da Vinci’s G2. i-HLS was exclusively told the new generation will guarantee more advanced command and control capabilities, low noise signature, longer endurance and additional features that could not be disclosed.
Flying Production already sold 15 systems, the last of which are scheduled to be delivered by January 2015 to two undisclosed customers from Asia.
Flying Productions, which was established in 2011, has 7 engineers and technicians. The CEO is Tal Shahar, one of the founders of AERONAUTICS. The company is owned by a group of investors and its own employees.