Heli-Expo 2015: ASU brings new microgimbal to the UAV market

by Beth Maundrill in Orlando

Aviation Specialities Unlimited (ASU) is demonstrating the new Observation Wide-Area Low-Altitude Sensor (OWLS) microgimbal at Heli-Expo 2015.

Adapted for small UAVs, the new sensor is lightweight and also has the potential for use on manned aircraft.

“We wanted to create something that is easy to use and could identify a man-sized target from around 1,000 ft away,” explained Dr Joseph Estrera, CTO at ASU. “OWLS provides low-light performance for commercial applications, something that until now has been mainly restricted to the military.”

OWLS combines a night vision sensor with an image stabilised microgimbal enclosure, which has a four inch diameter and weighs less than 2lbs.

‘We are currently working towards full qualification testing and are looking to start low rate production at the beginning of the summer this year. We are looking to produce around ten OWLS units a week initially. However we will be looking to increase this.’

OWLS is intended for slow speed applications of up to 7 knots, although the company has said it could insert a slip-screen device for higher speed. When the sensor goes into production, ASU will look to make each unit to customer requirement. Each unit will have a cost of less than $50,000.

‘We will provide installation of the unit to customer requirement. Especially with the fixed wing customers as past experience tells us that they are more likely to require assistance in comparison to the UAV operators,’ Estrera said.

‘Initially we are looking to the agriculture market for this product, but we have had interest from UAS for the inspection of solar farms.’

The product will initially be launched for public use which will include law enforcement and fire fighting. The gimbal is compliant with aircraft equipment standards (DO-160) for environmental and air worthiness standards.

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