x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Hand-thrown drone is launched

The 75-centimetre wingspan Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), called iStart, is to be used for surveillance.

DUBAI // A British defence company specialising in designing, developing and operating unmanned systems has launched a small precision product that has “eyes in the sky”.

The 75-centimetre wingspan Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), called iStart, is to be used for surveillance.

“It gets unfolded, shaken and thrown into the air with a ground control station to log in details about where it’s meant to look and land,” said Dr Yoge Patel, chief executive of Blue Bear, which launched the product.

“It’s a very high-precision flight. It has a high level of automation and autonomy. You don’t need to fly this plane, you just unpack it and throw it into the air.”

The launch is automated by a flight control system that comes into play as soon as there is movement.

“The avionics will do all the thinking,” Dr Patel said. “The cameras are clipped on for day and night.”

She said the iStart, made of foam, was easier to use than current UAVs.

“It’s important because quite a lot of guys who want to use this don’t know how to fly vehicles,” Dr Patel said.

“Its purpose is to get eyes on the target or your surveillance information very quickly so it’s a very efficient operation. Five minutes into the air will give you the information you need.”

Getting a look at a target without a human operator to intervene can sometimes prove difficult.

“This vehicle can do 74 per cent eyes on target, even in the most severe weather,” Dr Patel said. “Precision landing gives you a degree of security. You don’t want to send your men out and make them vulnerable and you don’t want to have your men exposed.”

She will introduce the system to Dubai Police at the airshow this week, and said they had “expressed interest”.

“It’s very low footprint and low-operator workload,” Dr Patel said. “It’s the smartest vehicle you’ll find in this size.”

cmalek@thenational.ae