News Archive


Resolution UAS Airframe Update

11/2008 2008’s research has resulted in some modifications to our Resolution airframe. The wing area was increased to enable more payload capacity and greater margins in the slow-speed realm of flight. Also the vertical stabilizers have been moved inboard to the wing roots. This has shown an increase in yaw stability as well as has made the fins less prone to “hangar rash” damage in the shipboard environment.


ATI Resolution UAS Takes Part in NOAA North Pacific Marine Debris Survey Research

04/2008 From March 24 through April 10 the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) development team from ATI took part in a marine debris survey mission to the sub-tropical convergence zone in the North Pacific.

ATI’s goals were to explore actual shipboard launch and recovery procedures as well as test the system in an operational environment. Tim Veenstra, president of ATI wrote:

The Resolution UAS airframe performed exceptionally well.  From the perspective of aircraft design, the airframe is extremely strong and has proven to be robust and durable.  The carbon fiber/Kevlar wings have never suffered damage despite operating in rough seas, strong winds, shipboard storage and movement, and having the small boat come down on top of them during the recovery. The aircraft was passed off from small boat to ship and then from deck personnel to UAS personnel by grabbing on to one wing and lifting the UAS.

The new center section design on the second airframe (Malolo 2) made a number of significant improvements over the earlier version.  The center section, despite being significantly larger, is more streamlined, stronger and requires less power to maintain altitude than Malolo 1.  Marinization and protection of the electronics excellent.  Access to batteries is through a screwed on hatch cover that allows battery changes to take place in about 1 minute.  Despite being turned upside down after a landing due to swell and winds, we maintained water tight integrity. Adding additional sensors, batteries or antennas will be possible with this new design.

The feed into the Anomoly Detection Software (ADS) computer worked very well.  The ADS was installed on a laptop and located on the bow.  GPS feed coming from the UAS was plugged into the ADS computer.  Sea state conditions were not conducive to gathering reliable automatic hits from the ADS due to foam and breaking waves.  The operator monitoring the ADS computer could input hits that were visually seen on the monitor.  Each “hit” saved an AVI file of the incoming video and time stamped the file with a GPS location and time.

The style or type of survey path to fly was not defined before the cruise nor could it have been without actually seeing how the different aspects of the cruise would work together.  FAA limitations and the fact that at ½ mile distance, the Resolution becomes hard to see in order to take back control made trying different survey designs difficult if not impossible.  After seeing on-board operations, we believe a dynamic survey path would be most conducive to debris survey as well as being flexible for varying distances required or allowed.  Curt has been writing code that will allow for automatic waypoint updates for the Resolution during flight.  With this new code the UAS can continue to fly between two (or more) relative points that are based on a distance and bearing from the ship.  As the ship moves, the points keep changing and the UAS will end up flying a dynamic route in front of the ship from port to starboard, based a set distance from the ship.  As the ship’s speed changes, the route becomes either tighter or more spaced apart.  We would like to have tested this method during the cruise if weather had cooperated.  Instead, we will be testing this survey method on land with a moving “home” position.

The ATI team enjoyed the opportunity to work along side NOAA personnel on this cruise.  Despite the reduced number of UAS flights that we were able to perform due to weather and legal restrictions, we feel that the time was beneficial for the advancement of shipboard UAS operations and further refinement of the Resolution UAS.  We look forward to the opportunity of working with NOAA  again and desire input from NOAA that will enable us to improve the Resolutions usefulness and functionality for specific NOAA missions.


Media Attention Paid to NOAA’s Unmanned Aerial System Project

12/14/2007 from Marine Debris WeeklyOn December 13th, staff with the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center’s Coral Reef Ecosystem Division joined Airborne Technologies to display the capabilities of their new unmanned aerial system (UAS), the Malolo I (“flying fish”). [read more]