United Technologies
Cloud Cap Technology

More News

September 14, 2012 – Cloud Cap Announces the tight 1.2(deg) FOV TASE400D High Performance Dual Daylight Camera System

TASE400D High Performance Dual Daylight Camera SystemCloud Cap Technology announces the production release of the TASE400D, Cloud Cap's most advanced daylight imaging micro-gimbal. It has a high performance dual daylight payload system based on advanced inertial stabilization technology developed in the TASE400. The 'D' series was designed to provide close and long-range daylight surveillance imaging for manned and unmanned applications.

The TASE 400D includes a GPS/INS engine and full software and hardware compatibility with the day night TASE400 for "bolt on and go" swappable operation. The payload configuration includes a Sony 36x zoom camera system for viewing down to 1.2° as well as direct drive brushless motors that offers agile, smooth and steady video collection.

The TASE400D also includes as standard, onboard video processing that adds video stabilization, object tracking, and Geo-location capabilities. Video from dual daylight cameras can be switched on board or viewed simultaneously. Communications are compatible with existing TASE options, simplifying updates from applications with other Cloud Cap gimbals and the open communication specification allows customer developed and third party application development. Cloud Cap's ViewPoint application provides full featured control, video/telemetry recording, and playback.

August 6, 2012 - United Technologies Closes Goodrich Acquisition.

We are excited to announce that our parent company, Goodrich Corporation, was recently acquired by United Technologies (UTC). We are now part of a new division of UTC called UTC Aerospace Systems, along with all other Goodrich business segments and UTC's Hamilton Sundstrand. As UTC Aerospace Systems we now offer our customers a broad portfolio of advanced systems, products and components, from landing gear and nacelles, to electrical generation, air management systems, and of course Cloud Cap's UAV Flight Management System and stabilized camera systems.

UTC Aerospace Systems' headquarters is located in Charlotte, North Carolina. Cloud Cap, a part of the ISR division, remains in Hood River, Oregon along with all of the hardworking, committed employees you've worked with in the past.

How will this acquisition affect you? Customers remain our priority. We will continue to provide our customers with unmatched technical support and market leading technologies. Our relationship with you is very important, so feel free to contact us if you have any concerns.

We look forward to a bright future together.

Read the complete article…

June 11, 2012 – Cloud Cap is expanding!

With the worldwide success of our products, Cloud Cap is rapidly expanding in staff and facilities to meet the growing needs of our customer base. Cloud Cap has added a number of new people and now moved into a much larger building doubling the available floor space and greatly extending manufacturing, test, and engineering facilities. Watch this time lapse video of the new building being constructed!

May 3, 2012 – Salina airport supports Kanas State University UAS program with the Piccolo Autopilot.

The Piccolo Autopilot is the cornerstone of K-State's Bachelor of Science in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) program. The program allows students a hands-on approach for integrating, setting up and safely testing UAVs in a controlled airspace at the Salina airport. Read the complete article…

TASE400 Gimbal wins RotorcraftTop Products Award

December 9, 2011 - TASE400 Gimbal wins Top Products Award!

The TASE400 was chosen as an RPMNetwork Top Product for 2011 from form the editors of Rotorcraft magazine. Each year the editors of Rotorcraft evaluate and review dozens of products and services from their advertisers and readers in the rotorcraft market. These products, they feel, represent the "best of the best". Cloud Cap Technology is honored to be among them! For more information see the December issue of Rotorcraft Professional Magazine.

 


UAV Fuel Injector


UAV Fuel Injection Module


July 27, 2011 - Goodrich and Currawong Engineering Sign Joint Development and Distribution Agreement supporting advanced electronic fuel injection in UAV engines.

CHARLOTTE, NC, July 27, 2011 – Goodrich Corporation (NYSE:GR) and Currawong Engineering Pty Ltd. of Tasmania, Australia, today announced a joint distribution agreement for technology developed for small gasoline and heavy fuel UAV engines. Goodrich will become a worldwide distributor for the marketing, selling and integration of Currawong's high efficiency Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) technology called "SEEFIS".

The Currawong SEEFIS technology, already tightly integrated with Goodrich's industry standard Piccolo autopilot, can dramatically increase the engine reliability and fuel efficiency of today's UAVs, while simultaneously extending their range to achieve longer mission profiles. With this agreement, the combined EFI-autopilot solution will now also be supported through Goodrich's sales and support channels, greatly extending the global reach and access to Currawong's product and the combined solution in the UAV community.

"This agreement continues a long working relationship between Goodrich and Currawong," said Ken Hosking, chief operating officer of Currawong. "We have successfully co-developed technological advancements and this extends the relationship into a further important market area."

"The capability of converting gasoline engines to heavy fuel operation and integrating the engine's controller with the autopilot can dramatically increase reliability, which is a major benefit for the UAV industry," said Ross Hoag, chief engineer of Goodrich's ISR Systems team in Hood River, Oregon. "Electronic fuel injection offers substantial improvements in endurance to UAV engines allowing for more persistent ISR capability, and is in high demand."

In addition to offering component level and fully integrated EFI solutions, Goodrich will provide custom engine integration services for both U.S. and international unmanned vehicle integrators. Moreover, Goodrich is investing in the construction of an advanced engine development and calibration facility in Hood River that will continue to research advancements in this important area.

The Hood River, Oregon facility, Cloud Cap, was acquired by Goodrich in 2009 and is part of its ISR Systems business. The Hood River team specializes in UAV system components including its industry standard Piccolo autopilots and advanced TASE stabilized gimbaled camera systems. Cloud Cap products are widely used in military combat operations as well as many commercial applications worldwide.

Goodrich Corporation, a Fortune 500 company, is a global supplier of systems and services to the aerospace and defense industries. With one of the most strategically diversified portfolios of products in the industry, Goodrich serves a global customer base with significant worldwide manufacturing and service facilities. For more information visit http://www.goodrich.com.

For more information regarding fuel injection components see the complete list of Currawong fuel injection data sheets.

February 7, 2011 - TASE Family of Gimbals Get New Names

In an effort to simplify the naming structure of our family of stabilized camera gimbals, we're making some changes.  All gimbals will now belong to a "series" which is indicative of the level of functionality of the gimbals.

Cloud Cap Technology Small Stabilzed Camera Gimbals

Gimbal Name
TASE150 Series
TASE150 w / Sony FCB-EX980S EO Camera TASE150
TASE200 Series
TASE200 w / Sony FCB-EX1020 EO Camera TASE200
TASE200 w / Sony FCB-EX1020 EO Camera & FLIR Tau 640 LWIR Camera
TASE300 Series
TASE300 w / Sony FCB-EX980S EO & FLIR Tau 640 LWIR Camera TASE300
TASE300 w / Sony FCB-EX980S EO & FLIR Tau 640 LWIR Camera / Optional Laser Range finder / IR Laser Illuminator
TASE300 w / Sony FCB-EX980S EO Camera only TASE300e
TASE400 Series
TASE400 w / Sony FCB-EX1020 / FLIR HRC MWIR Camera / Optional Laser Range finder / IR Laser Illuminator TASE400
TASE400 w / Sony FCB-EX1020 / Sony FCB-EX1020 with 1.6x Optical Magnification Element TASE400d

 

 

UAV Outback Challenge Rescue Team


December 2, 2010 – Cloud Cap Technology attends Arcturus T-20 flight demonstration.

Cloud Cap Technology was pleased to attend a flight demonstration hosted by ARCTURUS-UAV in Whidbey Island, Washington on October 19th. The Arcturus T-20 UAV completed a search and rescue mission using Cloud Cap Technology's TASE300 gimbal after deploying a smoke marker to identify the search area. View the flight demonstration video.



 

 

November 1, 2010 - Cloud Cap Technology demonstrates real-time image fusion and mosaicing capabilities with TASE300m gimbal.

This video demonstrates real-time image fusion and mosaicing capabilities. Image fusion is the process of putting together information from various cameras (EO, IR, etc.) into a single video stream where the information is presented in a user-intuitive way.

In the first segment of the video, the SWIR source is used as a black and white background with false colors depicting thermal data from the LWIR source on a blue (cold) to red (hot) scale. The video stream is further enhanced by stitching consecutive frames into an infinite canvas (limited only by memory size in the system) to provide the user with an unlimited field of view.

In the second segment, the output from the fusion process is fed into the tracking algorithm. Several fusion algorithms are cycled through, as well as raw imagery from the three sources. The mosaicing and tracking processes are input neutral resulting in an uninterrupted mosaic-track.

Ask our about the new T2 MSI Gimbal, available Q1 2011, as well as Mosaicing software available now!


UAV Outback Challenge Rescue Team


October 20, 2010 – University of North Dakota participates in UAV Challenge – Outback Rescue in Australia with Piccolo autopilot.

Cloud Cap Technology congratulates the University of North Dakota (UND) Unmanned Aircraft Systems Engineering team for their success at the UAV Challenge – Outback Rescue in Australia. Each year, students and hobbyists from around the globe meet to compete in a mock rescue exercise using UAVs. The team from UND flew a BTE Super Hauler using a Piccolo autopilot, and was the first team in Outback history to successfully fly into the search area, find "Joe", and drop him a bottle of water. To find out more about UAV Challenge – Outback Rescue or see the 2010 results, visit the UAV Challenge – Outback Rescue website.

UAV Challenge Outback Rescue

 

April 28, 2010 - Cloud Cap Technology Releases ViewPoint 2.1.2

ViewPoint, an update to Gimbal UI, is the next generation of TASE Gimbal control software. The new software offers a cleaner, simpler user interface with an array of new features, while maintaining the richness of customization previously available.

ViewPoint Small Camera Gimbal Control Software screens

New ViewPoint interface features include:

The new ViewPoint software is available for download from the Cloud Cap website.


North American Surveillance Systems now shipping STC Approved TASE Gimbal Mounts January 20, 2010 - British Army to showcase TASE100 Gimbal at Bahrain International Airshow

The TASE100 Gimbal will be demonstrated by the British Army at the Bahrain International Airshow (BIAS), January 21-23, 2010 at the Sakhir Airbase in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The demonstration will include Goodrich's intelligence exploitation system as well as its new TASE100 stabilized camera gimbal integrated onto a developmental vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).


North American Surveillance Systems now shipping STC Approved TASE Gimbal Mounts January 11, 2010 – North American Surveillance Systems now shipping STC Approved TASE Gimbal Mounts.

Third Party Developer, North American Surveillance Systems (NASS), has developed a line of STC approved mounts for the TASE gimbals on the 150-206 range of Cessna aircraft. The new mounts bolt around the strut of a Cessna and utilize a dovetail mechanism for easy installation and removal of the gimbal. A novice installer can mount a gimbal to a new plane in one hour and an expert within 20 minutes. The NASS line of mounts have been used for aerial firefighting, law enforcement and pipeline inspection with many more applications on the horizon.

Top of Page

Nimbus UAV with TASE Gimbal supports Turin MarathonDecember 16, 2009 – Nimbus UAV with TASE Gimbal Supports Turin Marathon.

The Nimbus Eos Xi UAV, using a TASE camera gimbal, was recently used to document and support a marathon in Turin, Italy. The Eos Xi, a new aerial platform combining the characteristics of a conventional aircraft, a dirigible and a hang-glider, is ideal for civilian applications including environmental survey, border observation, crowd management, and event documentation. The TASE gimbal provides Nimbus with a light weight, fully stabilized camera platform ideal for this unique air vehicle.


December 2, 2009 Cloud Cap Technology announce new product price list.

An updated price list is now available from Cloud Cap Technology, which includes the new Piccolo SL, Navigator, and VPS. It also includes more configuration options for the T2 Gimbal as wells as a complete list of integration, peripherals, and accessory items designed to optimize CCT products and systems. For more information about Cloud Cap Technology's products and services and/or to receive a new price list, please Contact us.

Cloud Cap Technology new Software License PolicyDecember 1, 2009 - Cloud Cap Technology implements new Software License Policy.

Cloud Cap Technology is implementing a new software license policy that will limit free user interface software upgrades to a period of one year from the date of purchase. Downloads of new software versions after the one year will require customer purchase of a software maintenance license (SML) which will permit downloads of updates for an additional 12 months. These maintenance licenses can be renewed on an annual basis to support perpetual new software version support. For more information, including pricing, please contact us.


Arcturus T-20 with T2 GimbalOctober 22, 2009 - Arcturus T-20 makes successful air drops.

The Arcturus T-20 UAV successfully performed several airdrops during the 2009 PATCAD (Precision Airdrop Technology Conference and Demonstration) on October 22nd at Yuma Proving Ground. The T-20 carried a Cloud Cap Technology T2 gimbal as a means to track the 'Snowflake' payload to the target location. The computer guided 'Snowflake' hit the target zone five out of six times with significant crosswinds. The T-20 with Cloud Cap's Piccolo autopilot is a catapult launched UAV with up to a 65lb payload capacity.

Top of Page

 

Optimum Solutions Portable Automatic Tracking AntennaOctober 15, 2009 - Optimum Solutions releases portable automatic tracking antenna that is fully integrated with Piccolo autopilots.

The OS-PT-25 from Optimum Solutions is an automatic tracking system that is designed to provide GPS based positioning of high-gain antenna systems to support realtime airborne video and telemetry transmission requirements. The pedestal provides 45 lb-ft (61 N-m) of output torque on each axis. Heavy-duty ball bearings supporting the output shaft allow it to accommodate heavy payloads up to 100 lbs (45 kg). The system can accommodate large RHCP dishes, high-gain omnidirectional for diversity receive, and up two Yagi antennas for data comms. The system utilizes a RS-485 communications protocol which provides several advantages over RS-232. RS-485 allows communication over longer lengths of cable (1000 feet) and enables the ability for networking multiple nodes. The tracking antenna is controlled directly from Piccolo Command Center by using Cloud Cap Tech's antenna plugin software.


Ion TigerOctober 13, 2009 – Piccolo Equipped Ion Tiger Fuel Cell Unmanned Air Vehicle Completes 23-Hour Flight.

The Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL's) Ion Tiger, a hydrogen-powered fuel cell unmanned air vehicle (UAV), has flown 23 hours and 17 minutes, setting an unofficial flight endurance record for a fuel-cell powered flight. The test flight took place on October 9th through 10th at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The Ion Tiger fuel cell system development team is led by NRL and includes Protonex Technology Corporation, the University of Hawaii, and HyperComp Engineering. The program is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Read the full press release from the Naval Research Laboratory.


Skybus Lighter-than-Air Unmanned Aerial System (LTA-UAS)September 24, 2009 – SKYBUS 80K Lighter-than-Air Unmanned Aerial System completes pre programmed and in flight navigation routes with Piccolo II autopilot.

Science Applications International Corporation's (SAIC's) SKYBUS 80K Lighter-than-Air Unmanned Aerial System (LTA-UAS), controlled by a Piccolo II autopilot, successfully completed flights with pre-programmed and in-flight tasked navigation routes carrying a 500-pound payload in Maine. 

Science Applications International Corporation's (SAIC's) SKYBUS 80K Lighter-than-Air Unmanned Aerial System (LTA-UAS), controlled by a Piccolo II autopilot, successfully completed flights with pre-programmed and in-flight tasked navigation routes carrying a 500-pound payload in Maine on September 24. Flights were conducted in the National Airspace at the Loring Commerce Center, affording flight operations within a six-mile radius around the airfield.

Cloud Cap worked with vehicle primes SAIC and Telford Aviation to provide a Piccolo implementation of the control laws for the airship. The Piccolo II supported all of the automated flight modes for the successful tests. The next logical steps for advancing Piccolo controls will be implementation of autopilot controlled station-keeping, which will allow the airship to maintain a fixed position over a single waypoint on the ground.

The SKYBUS 80K is an 80,000-cubic-foot unmanned airship developed to carry more than 500 pounds of payload to 10,000 feet for 24 hours with a maximum speed of 50 knots. It can be used for a variety of security, intelligence, and communications relay operations. The system is able to demonstrate the utility of long-duration intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities where extended duration overhead capabilities are desired.

Top of Page

 

 

OV-10 Air Attack with TASE DuoAugust 3, 2009 - TASE Duo makes debut with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Avwatch Inc. recently provided the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) with a fully integrated TASE Duo system onboard one of their OV-10 Air Attack aircraft. Avwatch combined the TASE Duo with a portable roll on/roll off kit which supported H.264 compression of the video and full IP connectivity to the aircraft within a 30 mile radius of CDF's command center. Using Avwatch's system CDF fire fighters were able to view and control the TASE Duo from either onboard the aircraft or in their command center while sharing geo-referenced imagery with anyone in their network. To ensure interoperability with other first responders and Department of Defense OV-10 Air Attack with TASE Duosystems, Avwatch built a Cursor on Target plug-in for the TASE Duo's Gimbal UI software. The Cursor on Target (CoT) plug-in takes the TASE Duo's gimbal information and converts it to CoT XML schema to enable the information to be viewed in Google Earth, FalconView, C2PC, or in more than 100 other systems. Interested Gimbal UI customers may obtain the plug-in by contacting Cloud Cap Technology for further information

Avwatch Inc. is a service disabled veteran owned small business based in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In addition to providing customized kits, Avwatch also operates their own aircraft outfitted with Cloud Cap Technology sensor systems, ROVER datalinks, and high speed AES 256 encrypted data links to support real time full motion video, voice over IP, and ground based control of sensor systems. To support customer requirements, Avwatch has built a web interface certified for use through government firewalls to support real time full motion video, tasking, and situational awareness. Their web interface also provides archive and retrieval capabilities of all data collected. For more information or a demonstration account, contact operations@avwatch.us

 

 

 

June 22, 2009 – VPS Product Release

The Video Processing System (VPS) has been released to provide advanced gimbal image processing functionality for the TASE and TASE Duo gimbals.  This stand alone unit (0.81in x 3.7in x 4.25in, 6.55oz) provides object tracking, scene steering, image stabilization, and data overlays.  The control interface is via the TASE gimbal, providing a clean integration.  Image processing functionality is the same as that integrated into the T2 gimbal and allows system performance benefits over using the Gimbal UI - Object Tracking plug-in in many cases.  Please contact Cloud Cap Technology to discuss the benefits of including a VPS in your gimbal system. 

 

 

Goodrich CorporationMay 1, 2009 – Goodrich Corporation acquires Cloud Cap Technology

On May 1, 2009, the Goodrich Corporation completed the acquisition of Cloud Cap Technology, Inc.  CCT is now a part of Goodrich's ISR Systems business unit.  We will continue to provide the same focus on customers with our product development and technical support - enhanced by the additional support of Goodrich and its wide range of technical expertise. 

"This acquisition provides Goodrich with an increased presence in the rapidly growing small military UAV market, and also expands our ability to offer complete ISR imaging solutions for these platforms," said Curtis Reusser, Segment President, Electronic Systems at Goodrich.  "CCT's experience in providing powerful integrated solutions can dramatically reduce the time required to implement new unmanned aircraft systems, and we are pleased to have their advanced proprietary products join our broad portfolio of high-tech systems." 

Ross Hoag, President of CCT, said, "We have had a very successful run in building Cloud Cap Technology to its current size and capabilities with customer-focused technologies that are second to none. In joining Goodrich, we can gain the support needed to grow the business while maintaining our entrepreneurial drive for increasingly innovative technical solutions." 

 

 

ACR Test Flies Manta UAV with T2 GimbalFebruary 3-4, 2009 – Manta UAV Test Flight with T2 Gimbal

The Manta unmanned aircraft system, equipped with Cloud Cap Technology’s T2 Gimbal and Piccolo II Autopilot, recently flew a series of successful test flights demonstrating the ability of the T2 to identify targets at ranges of 3,000 to 4,000 feet. The T2 Gimbal, weighing just 5 lbs, was setup with the standard integrated image processing with object tracking, Sony FCB-EX980 and the FLIR Photon 640 IR camera (14 deg FOV) configuration. The Manta integration of the T2 gimbal was smoothly achieved and the gimbal performance was excellent. Program manager Chris Troudt stated that “…the T2 is an excellent match for the Manta. Together they provide a powerful combination.” Test flights also included a series of autonomous takeoff and landings in 15 to 30 kt winds utilizing the DGPS auto-land and take off software feature available on all Cloud Cap Technology’s Piccolo Autopilots. The Manta provides a 6+ hrs of flight with 40-90 kt cruise speeds.

 

MLB Company UAV SystemJanuary 6, 2009 – The MLB Company announces the Piccolo and Gimbal Hardware Equipped Bat 3 CC

The MLB Company announces the Bat 3 CC, the latest version of the popular Bat 3 series with Cloud Cap Technology’s autopilot and gimbal hardware. The MLB Company was founded in 1987 and specializes in complete ready-to-fly UAV systems. The Bat 3CC, a low-cost UAV system with 6 hours of duration, is now available from MLB with the Piccolo II autopilot and TASE or TASE Duo gimbal system. Initial units have been delivered to the Air Force Research Labs and have performed successfully in flight trials. Prices start at around $80,000 for a complete ready to fly system including all support equipment.

T2 Small Camera GimbalNov 20, 2008 T2 Stabilized Gimbal Now in Production

Cloud Cap Technology announces the production release of the T2 stabilized camera gimbal with the first units being delivered in December. Leveraging the inertial stabilization technology developed in the smaller TASE products, the T2 increases payload volume and enhances stabilization performance. The T2 is designed for airborne law enforcement, search and rescue, aerial mapping, and fire observation missions. The T2 is also designed to support the STUAS/TIER II payload requirements and a wide range of other unmanned system applications.

The T2 includes a full GPS/INS engine for standalone “bolt on and go” operation. Utilizing direct drive brushless motors, the T2 offers agile, smooth and steady video collection. The initial baseline payload configuration includes a Sony 26 X optical zoom daylight camera, the FLIR Photon 640 LWIR camera, and an NVG Wavelength IR Pointer.

Standard onboard video processing adds video stabilization, object tracking, and Geo-location capabilities. Video from multiple cameras can be switched on board or viewed simultaneously. Communications are compatible with existing TASE options, simplifying updates from applications with other Cloud Cap gimbals and the open communication specification allows customer developed and third party application development. Cloud Cap’s Gimbal UI application provides full featured control, video/telemetry recording, and playback.

Successful On Board Video Processing Flight Test

Nov 18, 2008 Successful On-Board Video Processing Flight Test

Cloud Cap recently flight tested new onboard video processing on the TASE single camera (Sony FCB 480- 16 x zoom) gimbal mounted on a RV7 aircraft. On board video processing allows from improved vehicle tracking as well as the much anticipated scene stabilization. These two features will allow users to engage and continue tracking objects over time with greater ease. On board video processing is part of the baseline configuration for the T2 and will be available as an add-on feature for all of TASE family products.

Top of Page

Manned Aircraft Flight Testing - Small Camera GimbalNov 7, 2008 Manned Aircraft Flight Testing

In October and November, the Cloud Cap Technology team participated in two manned aircraft test exercises using the TASE family of gimbals. The Department of Justice (DoJ) tested the TASE Duo on a Light Sport Aircraft, the Tecnam Eaglet and the Redlands Police Department (RPD) tested the T2 on a Manned Aircraft Flight TestingCessna 172. The team mounted the TASE gimbals the strut of each aircraft using a new manned aircraft mounting system designed by Cloud Cap. The Department of Justice contractor Tim Adelman was impressed with both the short setup time (less than 1 hour from start to finish) and system performance, adding, "We are excited to continue testing the system for the air borne law enforcement market."

With the RPD, the team completed three day flights and two night flights including air support missions. RPD has taken a leadership position in employing the use of low-cost assets to create air support for small and rural police departments. Cloud Cap and RPD will continue to work together in developing a complete air support solution, which can be rolled out to police departments across the country.

For more information on the use of Cloud Cap gimbals for the law enforcement market please use the following contacts:

Cloud Cap Technology
Dean Johnson. 541.387.2120 x 253.

Department of Justice
Mike O’Shea. 202.305.7954.

Redlands Police Department
Jim Bueermann. 909. 335-4744.

Top of Page

Piccolo Autopilot Breaks FAI World Record

October 5th, 2008 - Cross country glider flight with Piccolo Autopilot unofficially breaks FAI World Record!

Dan Edwards, a Graduate Student in the Aerospace Engineering Program at North Carolina State University, and his team broke new ground in autonomous non-powered flight on October 5th, 2008. The ALOFT (Autonomous Locator of Thermals) glider traveled 30.2 miles of a goal-and-return flight (60.4 miles round trip) in approximately 3 hours and 42 minutes. This beats the FAI record of 24.3 miles (set in 2005 by Gary Fogel) by over 5 miles!  The ALOFT is autonomously controlled by the Piccolo II Autopilot.

Piccolo System Software for Unmanned Systems - Version 2.1.0August 8, 2008 - 2.1.0 Software Release!

The long awaited Piccolo software version 2.1.0 has been released! Version 2.1.0 adds many improvements and features to the Piccolo System:

Additionally, advanced features are available on a tiered license fee so that integrators can purchase only the advanced features they require. For additional information contact Cloud Cap Technology Sales.

Top of Page

July 28, 2008 -  Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) Finishes Third Overall in the 2008 International Aerial Robotics Competition

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) Finishes Third Overall in the 2008 International Aerial Robotics CompetitionWe are pleased to announce that ERAU, based in Daytona Beach, FL has finished third place overall for the 2008 International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC). The IARC is a multiyear competition, developed to challenge student teams and advance the state of the art in unmanned aerial systems. ERAU, a latecomer to the competition has joined on the final and most difficult year of the competition. Using a Piccolo autopilot, enabled by Guided Systems Technologies’ (GST) patented Adaptive Neural Network controls technology, ERAU was able to achieve fully autonomous operations of their rotary wing UAV.  GST engineers provided rotary craft training and technical support.

Charles Reinholtz, Professor and Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering had this to say about the Piccolo and GST support:

"The performance of the autopilot freed us to work on other aspects of the competition, from the first time we turned it on IT JUST WORKED! Exceptional support, thorough documentation and a knowledgeable, responsive staff"

For more information, contact:

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

This excellent result, combined with Piccolo use by the winning teams of the AUVSI student competition in both 2007 and 2008 is a remarkable reflection on the power and ease of use of Piccolo autopilot systems.

Cloud Cap Technology ExpansionJuly 21, 2008 - Cloud Cap Technology Expands Production Facility


 
The new expansion will house all of the necessary production and testing equipment along with parts and raw materials storage. It will also provide more space for shipping and receiving. "We are very pleased with this added capacity," stated Ross Hoag Chief Executive officer. "Not only have we added more space, we are also acquiring new and more efficient equipment."

Top of Page

TASE LT DevelopmentJuly 9, 2008 - TASE LT Development Update

TASE LT design work is continuing with three prototypes built in June. They were shown at the AUVSI trade show supporting three different camera designs. The design concept and prototype fit within the 4.5 inch dome and tube envelope meeting the NAVAIR SBIR Phase II requirement. The TASE LT design will allow for mounting on a variety of different vehicle configurations using a standard form factor payload. Flight testing will begin in July with a target production date of Q1, 2009.

International Traffic in Arms RegulationsJune 24, 2008 - Piccolo System Software Access



Piccolo system software is protected under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Customer’s will have access to software downloads for Piccolo products through the Cloud Cap Technology website after receiving a password. To receive a password, go to the customer registration page and fill out the on-line form. To find out more about export control issues, visit the US Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) office web site.

Top of Page

AUVSI Student UAS Competition - Mississippi State University XIPITER Team

June 18, 2008 - AUVSI Student Competition Winners Use Piccolo LT Avionics

Cloud Cap Technology is proud sponsor of the recently completed AUVSI Student UAS competition held at Webster Field, June 18th - 22nd, 2008. The Mississippi State University XIPITER team, using the Piccolo LT avionics system won first place in the mission performance as well as overall competition categories. A number of the participants were using Piccolo autopilots to successfully complete the competition goals. For more information go to the AUVSI competition website. Congratulations to all student teams for their outstanding efforts.

Dan Edwards of Soaring Goose TechnologiesJune 14, 2008 - Cross country glider flight with Piccolo Autopilot brings graduate student one step closer to an FAI world record!

Dan Edwards, Graduate Student, Aerospace Engineering Program North Carolina State University and his team and his team broke new ground in autonomous non-powered flight on June 14th, 2008. The ALOFT (Autonomous Locator of Thermals) glider completed a 39.44 mile cross-country trek lasting 207 minutes, completing over half of the old distance-to-goal-and-return record of 50.6 miles. The team's ultimate goal is to break the 140.7 mile FAI world record for cross country flight set in 1988. The ALOFT glider, flown autonomously with a Piccolo autopilot, has a 14.2 ft wing span and weighs just under 12.25 lbs.

Top of Page

April 24, 2008 - T2 Gimbal Flight Test Successfully Completed

Hood River, OR - The first flight test of the T2 gimbal was successfully conducted on April 24, 2008. The test was executed using a prototype gimbal mounted on the strut of an Air Commander Darter under wind conditions gusting to 31 knots. The primary goals of the test were to exercise the new drive system and to assess the stabilization performance of the gimbal. The results were outstanding; the stabilization and object tracking performance allowed repeatable hands-off autonomous tracking of moving vehicles for over one minute even at a 2 degree field of view during significant aircraft motion.

Infrared imaging using the new Flir 640 Photon with a 35mm f/1.4 lens was also successful; the production T2 will feature the 640 Photon with a 62mm f/1.25, delivering 14 degree FOV imagery. T2 qualification testing continues with successful environmental testing from -50°C to +80°C and shock, vibration, and additional flight testing planned in the near future.

April 7, 2008 - Cloud Cap Technology launches the new Piccolo Configuration Wizard!

Piccolo Autopilot Configuration WizardNeed help defining your Piccolo autopilot system? The Piccolo Configuration Wizard is the answer! Building a full avionics solution, complete with an autopilot, ground station, and developer’s kit, can be very complex given the number of configuration options.

The Piccolo Configuration Wizard is a new web based system configuration tool designed to help customers define and tailor Piccolo system elements to best meet the needs of their project. The wizard conveniently matches radios, ground stations, and advanced features, which simplifies the system building process.

At the end of the wizard you can print a complete configuration list, and if desired, have the list sent to Cloud Cap to get a formal quotation via e-mail. Take a tour of the Piccolo Configuration Wizard and let us know what you think!

Top of Page

April 1, 2008 - T2 Gimbal Initial Testing a Success!

Hood River, OR - Cloud Cap Technology has been very pleased with the initial testing of the newest Tier II gimbal, the T2 over the last few weeks. Senior Engineering Technician, Dan Underwood stated, “It’s been very successful so far. We wanted to test the current levels created by wind loading on the motors. We are very pleased with the results.”  Lead Engineer Rob Gilchrist added, “Wind load generated large power draw was our biggest concern on this product, and we’re happy to see it perform so well during these initial tests.”

T2 Small Camera Gimbal T2 Small Camera Gimbal T2 Small Camera Gimbal

The T2 is the newest gimbal in the TASE family of gimbals, building on inertial stabilization technology developed in the TASE and TASE Duo products. T2 has been in development for the past six months and is set to debut at this year’s AUVSI tradeshow in June.

Top of Page

April 1, 2008 - Cloud Cap Technology Celebrates Nine Year Anniversary!

Cloud Cap Technology celebrates 10-year anniversary Piccolo refers to “a small instrument an octave higher than others”; a fitting description of Cloud Cap Technology’s cornerstone product.

It has been nine years since founders Ross Hoag and Bill Vaglienti, veterans of the Aerosonde UAV development program, set out with a goal of developing an avionics system for small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). They knew that the avionics system had to be small, low cost, and low power. This concept evolved for the first two years of the company’s existence until a core set of autopilot requirements were worked out. In the fall of 2001 all of these requirements came together to produce the first Piccolo avionics system and ground station.

Since then the Piccolo family of products has grown to include an expanded line of autopilots, payloads, and sensors.

From its humble beginnings of two innovative engineers, the Cloud Cap team has grown to more than twenty engineers, technicians, and support personnel with over 70 years of combined experience in the UAV field.

Cloud Cap Technology looks forward to many more years of serving our customers by continuing to provide powerful low cost integrated solutions to the UAV market.

Top of Page



November 26, 2007 - Cloud Cap Technology and Guided Systems Technologies form Alliance

Piccolo LT Equipped Maxi-Joker
Piccolo LT Equipped Maxi-Joker
Piccolo Equipped NRL Spider
Piccolo Equipped NRL Spider

Hood River, OR - Cloud Cap Technology, Inc. is pleased to announce a new partnership with Guided Systems Technologies to provide Piccolo autopilot solutions for helicopter and other rotary wing unmanned vehicles. Guided Systems Technologies, leveraging more than 18 years of experience in guidance and control, offers advanced flight control technology that has been proven on a wide variety of unmanned rotary wing vehicles, including single main rotor and coaxial helicopters, tilt rotors, ducted fans, tail sitters and airplanes that can hover on the propeller.

Piccolo autopilot products are now capable of full-envelope automated helicopter flight operations, including take-off and landing, precision hover, automated path following and autopilot assisted manual steering modes. Additionally, Guided Systems will provide comprehensive customer support from initial project requirements definition through qualification flight testing.

Dr. Eric Corban, Guided System’s Founder and CTO says, “The helicopter and rotary wing UAV market will benefit greatly from affordable access to a complete helicopter control solution proven over a number of flight test programs that is made relatively easy to integrate through the combination of advanced technology, integrated hardware, quality documentation, and support that is tailored to the needs of the rotorcraft community.”

The Cloud Cap Technology family of Piccolo autopilots have become the standard for fixed wing UAV integrators. All of the Piccolo options provide a complete, off-the-shelf avionics system solution including the core autopilot, flight sensors, navigation, wireless communication, and payload interfaces, all in a small, highly-integrated, and inexpensive package. Over 1,500 autopilots have been delivered to date. The Piccolo autopilot is currently in service on a wide range of vehicles including the ACR Silver Fox, the Raytheon Cobra and the NAVAIR Tiger Shark UAV. Detailed information and system documentation for the Piccolo autopilots can be found at www.cloudcaptech.com.

Top of Page


Moving UAV capture precision recovery
Moving UAV capture precision recovery

November 7-8, 2007 - Moving Net Precision Recovery Success

November 7-8, 2007 Tucson AZ – Today Advanced Ceramics Research (ACR) and Cloud Cap Technology (CCT) demonstrated moving capture precision recovery using a Piccolo II equipped Silver Fox UAV with the latest 2.X autopilot software. During the two days of testing the team was ten for ten on autonomous recovery attempts, which included a variety of moving net scenarios. This was the first flight test of the moving capture algorithms and demonstrated the capability required for autonomous shipboard recovery. Shipboard testing will follow early next year. The flight test marks the culmination of a one-year development effort led by Bill Vaglienti, CCT’s co-founder and CTO, and builds upon the initial release of the 2.X branch of Piccolo autopilot code which supported fixed position precision recovery. With the addition of moving capture precision recovery the Piccolo System now supports options for autonomous rolling takeoff, catapult, balloon and tube launching; as well as wheeled, belly, shipboard or land based precision net recovery.

Background
Advanced Ceramics Research (ACR) is a leading developer of small UAS systems for the Department of Defense. Their Silver Fox UAV is currently deployed in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. ACR provided the Silver Fox UAV, ground infrastructure, flight operations crew, as well as designed and implemented the moving net system used during the testing. ACR is one of CCT most valued customers; historically they have been a driver as well as an early adopter of new Piccolo technology. A special thanks goes out to the ACR team who were instrumental in making this flight test possible.

Cloud Cap Technology (CCT) is the world leader in end user programmable UAV autopilots systems, payloads, and sensors. The Piccolo family of autopilots, Piccolo II, Piccolo Plus, and Piccolo LT, provide unparalleled performance, reliability, and flexibility at an affordable price. The Piccolo system offers a complete solution including modeling and simulation tools, documentation and support as well as a new full-featured user interface called Piccolo Command Center (PCC).

For additional information contact Cloud Cap Technology Sales.

Top of Page

Advanced Ceramics Research Silverfox UAVOctober 19, 2007 - Piccolo equipped Silver Fox UAV Flies in the Philippines for the 31st MEU.

October 19, 2007 - Fort Magsaysay, Philippines - Providing a forward set of eyes from above, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, III Marine Expeditionary Force, launched the Silver Fox unmanned aerial vehicle for the first time to conduct an operational evaluation here, Oct. 19, during Amphibious Landing Exercise '08. For more information, see the full article in the UAV News.

QinetiQ Zephyr High Altitude Long Endurance UAVSeptember 10, 2007 - Cloud Cap Technologies TASE Gimbal used in QinetiQ's Zephyr UAV

September 10, 2007, White Sands NM - A TASE gimbal, produced by Cloud Cap Technology Inc. was successfully used as the imaging payload in QinetiQ’s Zephyr High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

At the US Military's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico the Zephyr achieved a 54 hour endurance flight, unofficially breaking the world record of 30 hours and 24 minutes.

The Zephyr is an ultra-lightweight carbon-fiber aircraft with a wingspan of up to 18 meters but weighing just 30 kg. By day it flies on solar power generated by silicon arrays no thicker than sheets of paper that cover the aircraft's wings. By night it is powered by batteries that are recharged during the day using solar power. During the trials the same aircraft was flown twice while carrying the TASE gimbal as a surveillance payload – first for 54 hours to a maximum altitude of 58,355 feet, and then for 33 hours 43 minutes to a maximum altitude of 52,247 feet. Potential applications for Zephyr include earth observation and communications relay in support of a range of defense, security and civil requirements. Additional details of the Zephyr accomplishments can be seen in the QinetiQ news release.

The Cloud Cap Technology TASE gimbal provided features key to the QinetiQ efforts. It is a robust, small and very light weight stabilized payload. The TASE gimbal electrical and mechanical interfaces and inherent flexibility allowed QinetiQ to achieve HALE performance with an inexpensive < 1Kg gimbal.

For additional information about the TASE family Cloud Cap Technology Sales.

Top of Page

August 6 , 2007 - Cloud Cap Technology Releases 2.x Branch Software

August 6 , 2007 - Hood River, OR - Cloud Cap Technology Inc. announces the release of software version 2.0.4 for the Piccolo family of autopilots. Software branch 2.x has been in development for more than a year and integrates the 6 years of development experience from the 1.x software branch. Important features of version 2.0.4 includes new system capabilities, control law implementations, integration support, and a significant new user interface, the Piccolo Command Center. As with previous Piccolo software, an open communication specification, SDK, and licensable source provide users with flexibility of use and options for customization. As with previous Piccolo software versions, the new autopilot software is provided free for to Piccolo customers to download. Source code licensing and advanced feature licenses are provided on a fee basis.

The new system capabilities provide precision autonomous takeoff and landing, including rolling or catapult takeoff, and wheeled, net, and or belly recovery with full support for flare, brakes, and on the ground steering. Balloon and tube launch support are also provided . A new full GPS/INS navigation solution with fixed wing aided AHRS backup in case of GPS failure adds to system robustness and performance. Optional integration with high-end dual frequency RTK DGPS receivers provide centimeter-level position accuracy for applications where precision recovery is required.

New advanced control laws have been implemented for higher fidelity control of fixed wing platforms. A universal controller API is added, making it easier to change the control laws for new platforms including helicopters, blimps, boats, etc. As such, 2.x supports the long anticipated Piccolo helicopter solution which will be led by Cloud Cap’s rotary wing partner, Guided Systems Technologies.

Customer modeling and integration is further assisted with new advanced vortex lattice simulator tools which ease the estimation of aircraft parameters. I/O configuration is made even more flexible, allowing customer configuration of up to 16 outputs for servo or discrete surface and payload management. All of these items support reduced time for customer integration of a new platform.

The 2.x release also includes the new Piccolo Command Center interface software. This completely new Piccolo interface addresses requirements from current users and provides a powerful solution which significantly improves the flexibility and feature set provided. Key features include enhanced flight planning support, map display improvements with multi-aircraft displays and 2D/3D terrain aware mapping, a new intuitive Primary Flight Display and graphical EFIS along with the ability to change airspeed, altitude, and heading commands from EFIS display. Design allows user customizable dockable windows so data can be configured per user requirements.

For more information, contact:

Bill Vaglienti
Cloud Cap Technology, Chief Engineer
(541) 387-2120 x 222
Ross Hoag
Cloud Cap Technology, Principle Engineer
(541) 387-2120 x 223

Top of Page

July 23, 2007 - Cloud Cap Technology begins work on NAVAIR Phase II SBIR gimbal contract.

TASE LT Zoom Small Camera Gimbal SystemJuly 23, 2007, Hood River, OR - Today Cloud Cap Technology officially kicked off an eighteen-month program to develop a small, low cost, stabilized pan tilt and zoom camera gimbal system called TASE LT. This smaller version of the popular TASE is being designed specifically for the NAVAIR expendable Sonabuoy Launched UAV (SLUAV) program but will have wider application, especially in the emerging small electric UAV market. Additionally, and most importantly from a cost and size perspective, the proposed Cloud Cap Technology solution will combine the autopilot and gimbal functionality into a single common autopilot/gimbal electro-mechanical package resulting in a dramatic reduction in the overall size, complexity, and cost compared to any competitive solutions. Given our long history and expertise in autopilot technology, Cloud Cap Technology is uniquely qualified to provide this additional level of functionality in the gimbal package. This novel approach offers the optimal solution given the size and cost constraints of expendable systems of this class.

Cloud Cap Technology will be teaming with both Solution Engineering (SEI) and Currawong Engineering Pty Ltd on this program. Solution Engineering, another Hood River company, will be developing advanced video processing capabilities (including target tracking and electronic stabilization) which will be embedded onboard the TASE LT. Currawong Engineering, an Australian company located in Hobart, Tasmania will be working on the mechanical design and prototyping.

The program is being funded under a NAVAIR Phase II SBIR program focused on developing payload solutions for the NAVAIR Coyote and Voyeur UAVs. The base program includes a twelve-month development effort followed by a six-month evaluation and demonstration period. An option, if exercised, will be targeted toward integration of the TASE LT on to other existing small-electric UAVs. The addition of a stabilized camera gimbal and advanced video processing, which until recently has not been available to vehicles of this class, will dramatically expand their Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) potential.

For more information contact:
Ross Hoag at (541) 387-2120 x 223

Top of Page

July 11, 2007 - Raytheon's Cobra Unmanned Aircraft System Makes a Series of Firsts in North Dakota.

Raytheon Company Cobra UAV
Photo by Ben Trapnell, University of North Dakota

July 11, 2007 -TUCSON, Ariz., PRNewswire -- A Raytheon Company Cobra Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) conducted the first official unmanned aircraft flight in North Dakota June 25.

The Cobra flew approved flight profiles through military restricted airspace over Camp Grafton South, a National Guard training facility 45 miles south of Devil's Lake, N.D.

In addition to being the first unmanned aircraft to fly in North Dakota airspace, these were also the Cobras' first flights away from their home station in Tucson, Ariz.

During the three-day deployment to the site, the Cobras completed nine flights and executed completely autonomous takeoffs, landings and in-flight navigation along preplanned routes.

The flights were part of Raytheon's collaboration with the University of North Dakota, John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, the University of North Dakota School of Engineering and Mines and the North Dakota National Guard.

In one of the planned missions from the Camp Grafton South airfield, a Cobra UAS carried the PrecisionAg digital imaging payload developed by the University of North Dakota Unmanned Aircraft Engineering team. The PrecisionAg payload is designed to take digital images of crops and rangeland for monitoring vegetation health for North Dakota agribusiness applications.

"With its ability to conduct completely autonomous flight profiles and its FAA experimental airworthiness certification, Cobra is positioned to be the preferred unmanned aircraft system for the science, research and engineering communities," said Don Newman, Raytheon director of Unmanned Systems. "Cobra can stay aloft for more than three hours with a 25-pound payload, providing researchers with an affordable, stable platform for an array of sophisticated electronic equipment and sensors."

Cobra is a low-cost, highly reliable unmanned aircraft designed to support Raytheon's development, integration and test of unmanned systems technologies. The aircraft has a wingspan of 10 feet and is 9-feet long.

The Cobra UAS was designed by Raytheon to support the development, test and demonstration of sensor systems; networked command, control and communications systems; and unmanned aircraft system architectural concepts. The Cobra UAS integrates advanced systems and capabilities from several Raytheon businesses, including Tucson-based Missile Systems; Intelligence and Information Systems, based in Garland, Texas; Space and Airborne Systems in El Segundo, Calif.; and McKinney, Texas-based Network Centric Systems.

Raytheon Company, with 2006 sales of $20.3 billion, is a technology leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 85 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as a broad range of mission support services. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 73,000 people worldwide.

Top of Page

June 30, 2007 - More Success for Virginia Tech: Piccolo Takes First Place in Student UAS Competition

Virginia Tech’s team pulled out a win and pulled in $9000 at the AUVSI –sponsored Student UAS competition in late June.

The competition, at Naval Air Station Patuxent River’s Webster Field, in St. Inigoes, MD., called for the teams to take off or land autonomously, fly several waypoints while staying within pre-set boundaries and detect targets on the ground, wooden words that spelled out “Go NAVAIR.” Although this year’s target was similar to last year’s “Go Navy,” competition director Joe Brannan says no team was able to do it. Adding to the challenge were brisk winds blowing across Webster Field.

Virginia Tech completed the competition using the Piccolo LT Autopilot from Cloud Cap Technology. Overall, three of the top seven teams used Piccolo products in their aircraft (although the Embry-Riddle team ultimately removed their Piccolo for fear of crashing it in the high winds).”

Virginia Tech Autonomous Aerial Vehicle TeamVirginia Tech Autonomous Aerial Vehicle Team

The Virginia Tech Autonomous Aerial Vehicle Team is comprised of 28 members of the Mechanical Engineering department. The goal of their  team is to design and equip two aerial vehicles for autonomous flight. The vehicles will perform in two separate competitions sponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicles International (AUVSI).

Top of Page

High Altitude Return Vehicle Launch with Piccolo II UAV AutopilotJune 29, 2007 - Cloud Cap Technology Piccolo Guides T-15 High Altitude Return Vehicle (HARV) - Demonstrates autonomous recovery from 63,684 feet.

June 29, 2007 - McGregor Range, Fort Bliss, NM - the AFRL/AFSC HARV was balloon launched from Wilde Benton air strip (4,068') on McGregor Range in southern New Mexico. The goal of the test was to demonstrate the capability to cost effectively deploy and autonomously recover a high altitude payload from 65,000 feet. The vehicle used was a modified electric T-15 developed by Arcturus UAV. The T-15 was equipped with a Cloud Cap Technology Piccolo II autopilot, General Dynamic's payload, video system, and both UHF and Satellite communications. The vehicle's full-up weight at launch was 42 pounds including 10 pounds of payload (half its 20 pounds capability).

It took 52 mT-15 Autonomous Recovery from 63,684 feet with Piccolo II UAV Autopilotinutes to ascend, with balloon float occurring at 63,684 feet. Two minutes later the HARV was released and began the initial freefall portion of the decent. Autonomous pullout was accomplished thirteen seconds later at 61,500 feet. During the pullout the HARV achieved a maximum velocity of 200 KTS (True Air Speed) and pulled 2.75 g's. The HARV then began tracking back to base, arriving nine minutes later at 49,344 feet, where it began a long gliding descent. Fifty-six minutes later at 5,000 feet (932 feet AGL) the system initiated a landing flight plan at which point the engine was enabled and the HARV began an autonomous approach and landing. Total sortie time was just over two hours with about seventy minutes of autonomous flight time after the release.

This test was part of a phased effort co-sponsored by AFSPC and AFRL. The goal was to prove the operational feasibility of the T-15 UAV as a platform for launch and recovery of payloads at 65,000 feet and above.

Also present at the test were representatives from the Army Space & Missile Defense Command, Army Battle Lab, Colorado Springs, Navy Research Lab, and Arizona National Guard, Detachment 2.

For more information, contact:

Ross Hoag
Cloud Cap Technology
(541) 387-2120 x 223

Top of Page

Nov. 2, 2006 - Piccolo II autopilot is part of third unmanned aircraft system to achieve FAA experimental airworthiness certification.

Raytheon Receives FAA Experimental Airworthiness Certificate for Cobra Unmanned Aircraft System.

Cobra UAS - Piccolo UAV Ground Control Station

Raytheon Company's (NYSE: RTN) Cobra Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is the third unmanned aircraft and the first of its size to receive an Experimental Airworthiness Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Cobra is a low-cost, highly reliable UAS designed to support Raytheon's development, integration and test of unmanned systems technologies. The aircraft has a wingspan of 10 feet and is 9-feet long. The certification is the first given to a small UAS and permits Cobra flight operations in a specified section of the National Airspace in Southeastern Arizona. It also authorizes Raytheon to conduct research and development, crew training and market surveys using the Cobra UAS.

The Cobra UAS integrates advanced systems and capabilities from several Raytheon businesses, including Tucson-based Missile Systems; Intelligence and Information Systems (IIS), based in Garland, Texas; Space and Airborne Systems in El Segundo, Calif.; and McKinney, Texas-based Network Centric Systems. The Cobra test bed will be used to support the development, test and demonstration of sensor systems; networked command, control and communications systems; and UAS architectural concepts.

"The Cobra UAS will significantly decrease costs and compress schedules for bringing new UAS technologies to market," said Ken Pederson, vice president of Missile Systems' Advanced Programs. "Our customers will benefit from our ability to support both internal Raytheon development efforts and their programs with Cobra, without increasing the pressure on tactical systems and valuable range resources."

Raytheon worked closely with the FAA to receive the Experimental Aircraft Certification, providing Cobra UAS design, manufacturing, maintenance, safety, operations and training documentation for its review and approval. The final step in the certification process was a demonstration of Cobra UAS ground operations conducted under the observation of FAA teams from Washington and Phoenix.

Raytheon Company, with 2005 sales of $21.9 billion, is an industry leader in defense and government electronics, space, information technology, technical services, and business and special mission aircraft. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 80,000 people worldwide.

Note:
The Cobra UAS is composed of the aircraft and ground elements. The ground element consists of two control systems -- the Cloud Cap Technology Piccolo Ground Control Station and the Raytheon IIS next-generation Multi-Vehicle Control System. The MVCS uses the NATO Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 4586 interface to communicate with the Cobra aircraft. The dual control system configuration provides for maximum flexibility and safety during testing.

Top of Page

May 11, 2006 - The Cloud Cap Technology Piccolo LT comes alive!

Hood River, OR - Today the final pieces arrived that allowed us to assemble the first complete Piccolo LT autopilot. Piccolo LT is a compete autopilot system – it includes the inertial and air data sensors, processing, communications, GPS and flight termination, all fully integrated in a shielded enclosure. Piccolo LT is similar in concept to its big brothers Piccolo Plus and Piccolo II, both in performance and level of integration, but it’s much smaller, only ¾ of an inch thick. Its small size and packaging makes it the ideal solution for the latest generation of small UAV’s.

Piccolo LT Autopilot
Figure 1 - Piccolo LT (complete)

We believe Piccolo LT is the worlds smallest “complete” autopilot system. The overall solution weighs in at 109 grams (3.84 oz), which includes everything required – inertial and air data sensors, GPS, flight termination, data link, plumbing, and a shielded enclosure. While others make claims of small size and low cost, once you add in the other required components and do the final electro-mechanical integration you typically end up with a solution that has a much larger footprint, weighs more than anticipated, is electro-mechanically kludged together, and costs more than an integrated solutions. Piccolo LT is a leap forward from any existing technology in its size range, both in performance and level of integration, and will be backed by the same industry leading engineering, production, and application support as the rest of the Piccolo family.

At this point we have fully functional LT hardware and flight software, the production tooling is complete, and the automated test and calibration software is operational (the first LT board has passed inertial and temperature calibration). Our next step is to complete environmental qualification then proceed to flight-test. We expect to introduce the Piccolo LT as well as our new stabilized camera gimbal at AUVSI in late August.

Piccolo LT Autopilot Board Only
Figure 2 - Piccolo LT (board only)

Related information:

For further information contact Cloud Cap Technology Sales.

Top of Page

May 4th, 2006 - Hamilton, Australia Aerosonde Mark 4 obtains 38 hour 48 minute endurance mark.

Here's a quick "unofficial" report on the endurance flight:

We flew two aircraft this week in Hamilton, western Victoria to see just how long a Mark 4 Aerosonde could fly. The conditions weren't ideal with several cold fronts passing through the region. These fronts brought cool weather, rain and strong southwesterly winds. Winds at times were higher than the ideal cruise speed of the aircraft and so, coupled with a wet airframe and turbulent conditions, reduced our maximum endurance from our target of 40 hours. The reduced endurance meant that we had to land Aircraft 156 early to ensure we weren't forced to land at night.

Aerosonde 156 (Piccolo II 1053) launched on Tuesday May 2 at 0739 UTC and landed on Wednesday May 3 at 0742 for a total of 24 hours and 3 minutes. It landed with around 2.2 kg of usable fuel.

Aerosonde 157 (Piccolo II 1032) launched on Tuesday May 2 at 0637 UTC and landed on Wednesday May 3 at 2119 for a total of 38 hours and 48 minutes. It was Aerosonde 157's (and probably the Piccolo's) maiden flight and is the first Aerosonde flight to witness 2 sunrises.

Both aircraft landed unscathed apart from a broken static tube. Fuel consumption during the mission ranged from 207grams/hr down to 122 grams/hr.

Many thanks to all the crew at Aerosonde and Cloud Cap Technology that made this achievement possible. We're looking forward to breaking our record again soon.

Maurice Gonella - Special Operations Manager, Aerosonde Pty Ltd

The endurance achievement outlined above is particularly gratifying for Bill and I; it feels like we’ve come full circle with Piccolo flying in the Aerosonde. A 38-hour maiden flight, first flight on both the airframe and avionics, is impressive and shows the maturity level of the individual systems. Most people don’t appreciate what an achievement this is or how much time, effort and expertise are involved to get to this level of “off the shelf” performance.

The Cloud Cap Technology team has a long history with the Aerosonde program; many of us started our UAV careers working on the original Aerosonde back in 1994. It should be noted that the Aerosonde was the target vehicle which drove the original Piccolo design back in 1999 – we envisioned Aerosonde would be one of our first customers. We see this demonstration as the beginning of long and fruitful relationship, two companies with leading edge technology teaming to create world-class solutions.

Congratulations to our long time friends at Aerosonde!

Ross and Bill

Top of Page

January 2006 - Portable Ground Station Kit Now Available

Hood River, OR - The Portable Ground Station Kit (900-90015-00) provides a Piccolo Ground Station incorporated into a 18 x 14 x 7 inch case that makes it portable and more suitable for field operations than the desk top unit. All interface connections and control switches are provided on the outside of the case and associated cables and antennas fit within the case. Provisions are included for mounting an alternate link radio and Iridium satellite communications modem. For details, see the Piccolo System Kit and Ground Station page.

Piccolo Portable UAV Ground StationPiccolo Portable UAV Ground Station
Portable Ground Station Kit (900-90015-00)

Oct 6, 2005 - Piccolo Plus autopilot used in NASA autonomous soaring experiment

NASA engineers extended the functionality of the standard Piccolo autopilot by licensing the software source code and implementing autonomous soaring in the autopilot firmware.


NASA remote-controlled model motorized
sailplane flies over Rogers Dry Lake to test the theory that
catching heat thermals extends flight time for small UAVs.

Cloud Cap Technology offers source code licensing for the entire Piccolo environment enabling our customers the option for application specific customization of the autopilot system.

Oct 1, 2005 - Cloud Cap Technology Has Moved!



This week Cloud Cap Technology relocated to a new facility located at 2621 Wasco Street in Hood River, just a short distance from our original downtown Hood River location. The new building is a significant upgrade in both space and layout and will accommodate our continued growth in manufacturing as well as engineering. Other than the new physical address all other contact information remains unchanged.

September 2005 - Piccolo Interface Incorporated in Level 5 STANAG 4586 Ground Station Software

A Canadian Forces Silver Fox mini-UAV utilizing the PiccoloPlus autopilot was successfully flown with the CDL Systems Ltd VCS-4586 software in a demonstration for the the Canadian Department of National Defense UAV working Group. The VCS ground control station software is designed to meet the data link interface specifications of NATO STANAG 4586.

The tests successfully demonstrated full Level 5 control, including direct steering control, loiter command, mission waypoint control, and full automatic landing. The VCS 4586 is a fully integrated ground control station software package that can simultaneously control multiple UAVs carrying different payloads. A Piccolo specific module, developed by CDL Systems provides the software interface between the Piccolo Interface and the VCS-4586 software, will be compatible with any Piccolo-equipped UAV system.

September 2005 - Arcturus T-15 with Piccolo Autopilot Performs “Flawlessly” in Severe Environmental Conditions at Idaho National Laboratory (INL)

Scott Bauer and his team at INL recently performed extensive tests at the INL test range using the T-15 UAV from Arcturus outfitted with the Piccolo autopilot. The T-15 is a rugged 12+hr. endurance UAV that can handle up to a 15 lb payload, and can take off and land autonomously. The T-15 flew through tough environmental conditions on the test range, including 35 kt. winds gusting to 45 kt, heavy rain and hail. Throughout the test the T-15 performed “flawlessly” according to Scott. Aside from a little cosmetic damage on the leading edge of the wing from the hail the T-15 was in fine shape and ready to fly its next mission. The Piccolo autopilot performed admirably, keeping the T-15 stabilized in these rough weather conditions.

Arcturus T-15s and UAV Team
Scott Bauer and his UAV team at INL surrounded by T-15 UAVs

Arcturus is a San Francisco Bay Area based company specializing in rugged, dependable and cost effective UAVs for the security, commercial and DoD markets. The T-15 performs fully autonomous takeoffs and landings, and multiple T-15’s can be controlled by the standard Piccolo ground station. The T-15 has 800 cu. in. of unobstructed internal mounting space for payloads, plus hard points for mounting equipment on the wings. The T-15 can carry a maximum of 15 lb. payload and has a 12 hr. endurance with a 10 lb package.
www.arcturus-uav.com

Top of Page

August 8, 2005 - NRL Develops Fully Autonomous Compact Electric Helicopter

Washington, DC — Researchers at the Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL’s) Tactical Electronic Warfare Division (TEWD) have developed an affordably expendable fully autonomous compact electric helicopter system called SPIDER (Scientific Payload Insertion Device Electric Rotor). The helicopter can perform automatic takeoffs, fly up to 50 mph for 30 minutes, hover over a precise location and land autonomously while carrying a 4 pound scientific or countermeasures payload.

According to Mr. Chris Bovais, the SPIDER program manager, “The air vehicle and autopilot flight testing program began at NRL in June 2004. The NRL team implemented autopilot algorithms that were based on a neural adaptive flight controller system. This developmental software was first tested extensively on a surrogate electric model helicopter before being integrated into the new Cloud Cap Technology Piccolo II autopilot for use in the SPIDER system. The addition of an Aerosonde packaged Iridium data modem provides the capability for performing operations beyond RF line of sight communication, enhancing the overall mission capabilities of the helicopter.”

The research team reports the SPIDER prototype has successfully completed 97 flights during developmental testing achieving flight speeds of 50 mph. “The wide-speed range and accurate hovering performance that the NRL team has achieved from this small, low-cost avionics package is a major technology advancement,” Mr. Bovais said. “SPIDER is a unique system because it is a small, inexpensive, electric helicopter that fits into an easily transportable case, can operate from unimproved terrain and requires no special helicopter pilot training to operate,” Mr. Bovais concluded.

NRL Press Release

May 2005 - Inventus UAV performs in successful multi-aircraft test.

Nevada based Lew Aerospace has successfully flown multiple UAV's from a single operator interface for potential customers. Lew launched three Inventus “E” class models one after another within minutes to complete their mission. The mission was to fly three Inventus simultaneously in common airspace. This was made possible by using a specially designed operator interface and ground station developed by Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems. The flight presentation took place on April 20, 2005 at Roach Lake located at the Nevada state line. In attendance were representatives from DHS, NORAD, FAA, NSA, NASA, NRL, IDA and USAF. The demo flights were fully autonomous - catapult launch and parachute recovery. To date the Lew Aerospace team has made over 200 flights, logged over 300 hours of autonomous operation under Piccolo autopilot control and built 20 “E” class vehicles.

Flying multiple UAV's is new technology and flying them from one operator interface is truly cutting edge. The flight was very well received by the large group. One NORAD representative stated “my friend is a colonel in Iraq and he would love to have this right now!” 

The Piccolo Plus autopilot system, made by Cloud Cap Technology, was used to control the vehicles. The Piccolo is the only available autopilot system that natively supports multi-vehicle operations over a single communications channel. The Northrop operator interface was developed independently and without any Piccolo source code modification. This was accomplished using Cloud Cap Technology’s freely available communications specification and software developer's kit.

2005 Navy Opportunity Forum2005 Navy Opportunity Forum. May 2-4, Reston VA

Cloud Cap Technology was showcased in the 2005 Navy Opportunity Forum in Reston VA, May 2-4. This event highlighted technology solutions developed under Navy Phase II SBIR programs. Each presenting firm has developed a Phase III Transition plan that charts a course to the successful transition of Navy-funded technologies to other appropriate defense applications. During the show, Cloud Cap Technology presented a status update on our autopilot, integration support and payload products and services.

Top of Page

March 18, 2005 - New Flight Software Allows UAV's to Team Up for Virtual Fire Experiment

The old saying, "birds of a feather, flock together," can now be applied to a couple of small uninhabited aerial vehicles (UAV's) flown in a NASA research experiment using principles derived from studies of fish and bird motions to simultaneously guide them around obstacles.

Engineers and technicians from NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., recently conducted flight tests over a 'virtual' forest fire to evaluate new flight-control software that will allow UAV's the ability to autonomously react to obstacles as they fly pre-programmed missions. The tests were conducted over a remote area of Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to investigate cooperative flight strategies for airborne monitoring and surveillance of natural disasters and for atmospheric sampling.

"We developed and flight tested several novel approaches for providing assistance to wildfire suppression crews using a team of two small UAV's," said Ames' John Melton, principal investigator for the Networked UAV Teaming Experiment. "The aircraft were flown using a combination of rules from nature and robotics to cooperatively transit and search a virtual forest fire."


NASA Dryden Flight Research Center Photo Collection

The NASA researchers borrowed a mathematical tool devised by Hollywood movie makers to map and mimic the choreography used by swarms of birds and fish as they wheel and turn without striking one another. These in turn guided the inexpensive robotic UAV's around obstacles such as simulated smoke plumes. Called the boid algorithm, this tool separates the activities of individual birds or fish into three categories: heading matching, where the animals all try to keep the same direction; flocking, where the animals move to come into proximity to one another; and collision avoidance, in which the birds or fish maneuver to keep from running into each other.

Jason Clark, research algorithm developer at NASA Dryden, said the boid algorithm has been adapted to direct remotely operated UAV's to fly within predetermined proximity to each other, while avoiding collisions and maneuvering around phantom objects digitally placed in their flight paths. Though still in its infancy, this emerging software technology promises to one day enable swarms of UAV's to conduct aerial searches and participate cooperatively in activities such as firefighting.

For the tests, NASA used the Piccolo autopilot system and global positioning system (GPS) transmitters to enable a pair of RnR Products APV-3 UAV's to maneuver responsively in relation to each other. With the two 12-foot wingspan UAV's, the NASA researchers proved the concepts inherent in the boid algorithm. Neither aircraft communicated with the other directly, but sent and received signals with a central computer station on the ground that directed both airplanes to maneuver as needed.

In one test, the software automatically developed individual flight plans and transmitted them to each aircraft. After passing their first few waypoints, one of the UAV's was commanded to begin orbiting over the virtual fire. The remaining search points were then transmitted to the second aircraft, which incorporated these points into its flight plan and completed the mission.


NASA Dryden Flight Research Center Photo Collection

"This technology may one day enable swarms of aircraft to move safely from one area to another as a flock or group," said Melton. "A number of UAV's could be flown 'stacked' in a vertical column with instruments to collect air samples on future science missions or help ground personnel monitor forest fires and other natural disasters," he added.

NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate is supporting a variety of technology development projects for remotely or autonomously controlled high-altitude, long-endurance UAV aircraft. Such UAV's have the potential to serve as platforms for a wide variety of earth science, surveillance, communications relay and disaster-mitigation missions, especially in circumstances where flying a manned aircraft is dangerous. The Networked UAV Teaming Experiment was sponsored by the Directorate's Aeronautics Systems Analysis Project.

Top of Page

March 4, 2005 - Aerosonde Unveils its Mark 4.1 UAV

Dr Greg Holland, President Aerosonde North America, today announced the release of their next generation Aerosonde UAV - the Mark 4.1.

The Aerosonde unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is a fully autonomous aircraft designed and proven over a range of mission profiles. The UAV is capable of carrying and powering both civilian and military payloads.

Building upon the success of its predecessors, the innovative generation of smart airframe embodied in the Mark 4.1 introduces a new level of distributed network technology. This uses a robust four wire network interconnection, based on the Controller Area Network (CAN) specification, to provide communications between the guidance computer and the airframe and engine components.

“The CAN networking approach radically reduces airframe weight, whilst markedly improving aircraft serviceability and reliability, and providing enhanced capability for operating with a variety of guidance solutions and payload systems.” Dr. Holland said.

The Mk4.1 airframe provides a larger (30%) and ‘cleaner’ payload volume than previous designs. The new powertrain system, based around Aerosonde’s proven electronic fuel injected engine, now provides a dedicated payload supply with a 75W continuous capability. A separate 40W supply is provided for use by the guidance system. 

Commenting on the new design Principal Engineer with Aerosonde, Brad Phillips, noted: “Wiring harnesses in most small UAV's constitute some 10% or more of total airframe weight. Moreover we have found that the complexity of the harness systems leads to problems both in manufacturing and long term maintenance that can directly impact aircraft reliability. By adopting more relevant technologies to UAV design we have shown that these issues can be resolved.” 

The new airframe systems have already entered service with the upgrade of four Aerosonde UAV's owned by the Office of Naval Research and Alion. These aircraft, equipped with Cloud Cap Technology’s Piccolo guidance system, concluded flight testing last week at the NASA Wallops Facility. In their new configuration the aircraft are capable of carrying a maximum payload weight of 6 kg with an endurance of 30+ hours. 

For further information, please contact Aerosonde North America.

Top of Page

February 15, 2005 – Piccolo II Rotor Wing Autopilot Update

In the spring of 2004 Cloud Cap Technology was approached by the Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) Vehicle Research Section, in Washington, DC, for help in the development of an integrated helicopter autopilot system. Existing solutions were too proprietary, expensive, and big. NRL wanted a Piccolo that could fly helicopters. Hence Piccolo II was born. Piccolo II includes the extra sensors required to sense and control the state of a free inertial system like a helicopter: a magnetometer, a 4Hz GPS, a sonic altimeter, and more I/O including the interfaces to use an Iridium satellite modem.

Rotary wing development continued during 2004 culminating in numerous completely autonomous helicopter flights that included launch, waypoint navigation, and landing.

Table 1 provides a summary of progress since the initial prototype systems were transitioned to NRL in December 2004.

Table 1 - NRL Flight Summary since December 2004
Airframe Flights Total Hours Auto Landings Auto Launches
Maxi-Joker 22 3.12 17 11
SPIDER 37 5.75 20 7

In addition to fully autonomous flight we have demonstrated command and control via the Iridium satellite network and have achieved stable flight with the Maxi-Joker and SPIDER airframes in excess of 40mph.

Piccolo II will also support fixed wing platforms and will be backwards compatible. This offers the opportunity for simultaneous multi-vehicle, multi-mode (both fixed and rotary wing) flight operations using a single ground station and operator interface. The additional I/O features are included on a new connector, and the old interface is still available. Piccolo II also fits in the same enclosure as PiccoloPlus and Piccolo. We anticipate introducing the fixed wing version of Piccolo II in March of 2005 with the rotary wing version to follow shortly after.

A special thanks goes out to the NRL development team (Chris Bovais, Aaron Kahn, Steve Tayman, and Al Cross) who have been instrumental to the success of this program.

For more info on Piccolo II please contact Cloud Cap Technology Sales.

Top of Page

October 26, 2004 - BAI Aerosystems Integrates “Piccolo Plus” into “TERN” UAV

EASTON, MD A BAI Aerosystems flight team has successfully integrated Cloudcap Technology’s “Piccolo Plus” autopilot into its “TERN” air vehicle and validated system performance during an hour-long autonomous flight performed at the company’s Ragged Island Flight Operations Facility.

Autopilot hardware integration was achieved in only a few days, including physical autopilot installation, development of a simulator model, and initial autopilot gains. “Incorporation of the 'Piccolo Plus' autopilot in the BAI Tern air vehicle opens the door on a whole new generation of capabilities for BAI’s products” said BAI team leader Kirk Jenkins.


Piccolo Plus Equipped Tern Aircraft

The initial flight to validate system performance consisted of a truck-top launch in manual mode, followed by a one-hour fully autonomous flight, and manual skid recovery. During flight, the Tern aircraft maintained its programmed altitude within just 12 feet of its 750-foot target altitude. Trim of the autopilot’s gain settings was accomplished in only 20 minutes. During the test, BAI verified performance of a new “Auto-Assist” function, a feature new to both the Tern system and the Piccolo Plus autopilot, which allows for manual control between two waypoints.

“BAI has found the Piccolo Plus autopilot to be very user-friendly,” said Jenkins, “and we’ve also been very happy with Cloudcap’s technical support. Any time of day, they are available”.

Jenkins went on to say that BAI selected the Piccolo Plus for some of its advanced features, including autonomous launch and auto-land, simplified end-user programmability, and the ability to support up to 10 aircraft from a single ground control station.

BAI Aerosystems, Inc. is a 20-year old small business located in Easton, MD. The company manufactures small UAV systems, including a range of different aircraft, flight control systems, payloads, and support equipment. BAI products are in use on a daily basis by a growing number of commercial and defense customers, worldwide. For more information about BAI, its products and services, please visit us online at: www.baiaerosystems.com

September 9th, 2004 - A Team from Cloud Cap Technology led by Marius Niculescu demonstrates autonomous helicopter flight.

As part of an ongoing collaboration with the Vehicle Research Section at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, DC, Cloud Cap Technology today demonstrated autonomous takeoff, hover, heading hold, forward flight, and waypoint navigation. Also demonstrated was autopilot assisted manual steering and over the horizon command and control via the Iridium low earth orbiting satellite network. The test vehicle, a modified "Maxi Joker" electric helicopter, was flown using standard Piccolo Plus hardware augmented with external magnetometer, AGL sensor, 4Hz GPS module and Iridium data transceiver. The flight code included a new navigation filter and adaptive controller as well as helicopter specific user interface modifications. This was the fourth in a series of ongoing tests at Cloud Cap Technology and consisted of five flights - approximately 40 minutes of autonomous flight.

A parallel program funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is underway to integrate the new GPS module, magnetometer and additional I/O connector onto a daughter board. The daughter board will eventually replace the current Piccolo Plus M12 GPS board providing enhanced capability in the same Piccolo/Piccolo Plus footprint and form factor. The new hardware platform will be called Piccolo II and will support both fixed and rotary wing applications. The daughter board will offer current Piccolo Plus users a convenient and economical upgrade path if more performance and or additional I/O is required for their applications.

Top of Page

August 26th, 2004 - Autopilot integration in just two days!

Cloud Cap Technology successfully demonstrates the Piccolo Plus autopilot in the Griffon Aerospace Outlaw UAV. 

The first autonomous Outlaw flight consisted of a catapult launch in manual mode, transition to full autonomous control, and ended with a manual belly landing. This first flight under Piccolo control was the culmination of two-day vehicle integration effort led by a team from Cloud Cap Technology. The Outlaw is currently used by the Army as a target and until now has only flown under RC control (manual control within visual range). 


Outlaw UAV

August 4th, 2004 – MIT team demonstrates in flight autonomous rendezvous 

The MIT UAV testbed team successfully demonstrated a 2-UAV autonomous rendezvous using two Cloud Cap Technology Piccolo autopilots communicating over a single ground station (single RF link). By using 'Receding Horizon' control the MIT team was able to provide real-time flight path optimization (path following and automatic speed and timing control) to synchronize the pair of UAV's in flight, flying them in formation for over 10 minutes. 

August 3, 2004 – Raytheon Tests SilentEyes(TM) Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicle at Edwards AFB

PRNewswire-FirstCall -- Raytheon Company demonstrated its SilentEyes(TM) Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) by  ejecting it from an MQ-9 Predator pylon-mounted canister during tests at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

The tests, conducted in May and June, demonstrated the first capability toward removing a human from harm's way with a low-cost UAV, while delivering the same effectiveness. SilentEyes is designed to operate in close proximity to a potential target to collect clear images so an operator can make incontestable combat identification and target confirmation.

The test demonstration was managed by the U.S. Air Force Aeronautical Systems Center. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. supported the flight testing. For the tests, SilentEyes was loaded in a canister magazine similar to the Raytheon AN/ALE-50 Towed Decoy launcher and was launched by the MQ-9 flight crew from the Predator Ground Control Station. Upon release, SilentEyes deployed its wings, flew autonomously and transmitted target images with its data link through the MQ-9 data link to the ground control station for video display and processing. 

SilentEyes was commanded via the MQ-9 to alternate waypoints and target locations. SilentEyes was configured with the Cloud Cap Technology Piccolo Plus flight computer and Raytheon's MicroLight (TM) data link.

Raytheon's SilentEyes is a transformational system that can provide revolutionary or asymmetric advantages to the war fighter. SilentEyes has been designed to be affordable and can be quickly customized to perform a variety of missions.

SilentEyes' capabilities include performing confirmation identification for both stationary and moving targets, reducing the time to find, fix, track, target, engage and assess targets and to execute attack. The capability also will provide confirmatory identification when no manned assets have access to denied areas and will complement sensors on tactical manned and unmanned platforms with autonomous, air-launched sensors.

Spiral development of technology and technology spin-on can expand SilentEyes' capabilities to address other areas in the find-fix-track-target-engage-assess loop. Spiral development could include scaling and integrating SilentEyes with various payloads for deployment off the full range of strike aircraft, UAV's and Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles.

Raytheon developed and integrated emergent technologies into the SilentEyes air vehicle design and demonstrated the air vehicle in mission- relevant scenarios within nine months of contract award. These demonstrations showed that Raytheon could provide this capability for less than $15,000 per unit.

Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN), with 2003 sales of $18.1 billion, is an industry leader in defense and government electronics, space, information technology, technical services, and business and special mission aircraft. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 78,000 people  worldwide.


Top of Page

January 29th, 2004 – Testing of new Piccolo Plus software culminates with seven (7) autonomous landings.

This week Cloud Cap Technology began flight-testing a new generation of flight code - version 1.2. This next generation code includes many new features including a revamped autopilot, a new attitude estimator, glide slope controller, an auto land interface as well as hooks for a multitude of other enhancements requested by our customers – see the software roadmap for further details. 

Initial testing proved fruitful and culminated in seven successful autonomous landings. Testing will continue over the coming weeks to validate and characterize system performance over a broader range of vehicles and flight conditions.

Maruis Niculescu (CCT) directed the testing with Advanced Ceramics Research (ACR) providing the vehicle, flight test crew, and flying site. This work was partially funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) under a Phase II SBIR program. Special thanks goes out to Jim Buss, ONR program officer, and John Williams, Deputy Director Navy SBIR/STTR Program, for their continuing technical and financial support.

January 26th 2004 - Air Force Academy team makes first flights with Piccolo equipped Silver Fox UAV's.

This weekend a team from the Air Force Academy led by Major Al White begin flight-testing their Silver Fox UAV's. The first four flights on Saturday included a hand launch at 7,000 feet altitude. They are using the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Silver Fox and AINS software as key educational tools for their new UAV Engineering Degree Program. 

Major Al White, USAFA
Major Al White, USAFA

January 21, 2004 – Piccolo Plus Released

Today Cloud Cap Technology announces the release of Piccolo Plus, the fit, form and functional replacement for the popular Piccolo autopilot for small UAV's. Piccolo Plus will maintain compatibility with existing Piccolo based systems but includes a much-improved MEMS based sensor suite based on the same sensor head technology used in the Crista IMU. The improved sensor suite is built around the Analog Devices iMEMS ADXRS gyros and ADXL accelerometers. The improved sensor performance will allow for a broader range of applications as well as the integration of more sophisticated flight control algorithms. 

In an ongoing effort to provide reliable and cost effective solutions for our customers domestic pricing for the Piccolo Plus will remain the same as for the Piccolo ($6,000).

As we transition to Piccolo Plus we thought it would be nice to provide some statistics and history on the Piccolo.

Piccolo Statistics:
• The Piccolo has been successfully flown on at least 25 different airframes ranging in size from as small as 3 lbs to as large as 1,464 lbs;
• As of January 2004 we have built and delivered over 275 Piccolo Autopilot and Ground Station units.

Piccolo development history:
• Initial development began in the summer of 1999;
• First hardware was turned in November 2001;
• First Autonomous flights were in April 2002;
• Production units began shipping in September 2002

Top of Page

December 20, 2003 –Cloud Cap Technology demonstrates the Piccolo autopilot system on the BAI Evolution airframe.

A team from BAI led by Kirk Jenkins and assisted by Bill Vaglienti from CCT made a successful flight of the Evolution; exercising both manual and autonomous flight modes. For the test BAI supplied the airframe and CCT integrated a stock Piccolo Plus system with integrated 900MHz data link. The integration effort included developing a simulator model, the initial autopilot gains, the physical autopilot integration, and ground testing. 

This is the first time that the Piccolo system has been used to control a flying wing vehicle, as well as the first time it has been used on a twin-engine vehicle. Accordingly Cloud Cap Technology’s chief engineer Bill Vaglienti was on site for the first flight to help with any in-flight gain adjustments and to provide training on Piccolo setup and operation. The flight lasted approximately 30 minutes during which each loop of the autopilot was independently exercised to verify its operation before the system was allowed to go completely autonomous. 

July 9, 2003 - (INEEL) simultaneously flies five (5) Piccolo equipped UAV's

Boise, ID - Today a team from Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) simultaneously flew five (5) Piccolo equipped UAV's - another first for the Piccolo system. The Command and Control setup was comprised of a single 900MHz Piccolo Ground Station serially connected to a laptop computer running standard Piccolo Operator Interface software. This is believed to be the first ever simultaneous autonomous flight of five UAV's. This achievement highlights the flexibility, level of autonomy, and ease of use of the Piccolo system as well the high level of operational expertise of the INEEL crew.

June 27, 2003 - Cloud Cap Technology today completed initial flight-testing of a new software release for the Piccolo system.

Version 1.1.7 introduces a multitude of new features driven by customer requests including:

The flight-testing was done in Tucson by Advanced Ceramics Research (ACR).

Top of Page

April 12, 2003- The Aerial Robotics Club at the University of Arizona had 4 successful autonomous flights with the new Piccolo autopilot system today!

The weather was perfect at the Tucson International Modelplex Park (TIMPA) while testing.  Our fixed wing aircraft, the Eagle2, turned gracefully at each preprogrammed turn and flew GPS guided patterns throughout the afternoon.

We fined tuned our autopilot gains over the course of the testing and also performed some bank angle and velocity tests to define the capabilities of our aircraft.

At this point, the team has successfully demonstrated level I qualifications of the International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC): 3km of autonomous, GPS waypoint navigation.  We will be demonstrating these abilities to the judges at the competition this July.  Until that time, the team will concentrate on developing the machine vision system required for level II of the IARC: computer identification of the IARC logo on a structure and identification of the openings on that particular structure.

Top of Page

January 14, 2003 - Piccolo system used to demonstrate autonomous tracking of a moving ground station.

Today a group from UC Berkeley working with Advanced Ceramics Research (ACR) under a Navy Phase I STTR successfully demonstrated autonomous tracking of a moving ground station with a small UAV. The "Autonomous Intelligent Network of Systems" or AINS aircraft was equipped with a Cloud Cap Technology (CCT) Piccolo autopilot. The vehicle, which had a Piccolo ground station inside, traveled five miles down a road at various speeds with the UAV autonomously station keeping overhead. The Berkeley software, which was monitoring the progress of both vehicles and updating the aircraft's flight plan in real time, interfaced to the Piccolo ground station using CCT's communications SDK. The communications SDK allows users to easily develop external applications that can augment or replace the standard Piccolo operator interface.

January 9, 2003 - Three at once!


Advanced Ceramics Research (ACR) working with a group from UCLA flew three small UAV's simultaneously all under autonomous control - a first for the Piccolo system. Two of three were controlled by an external application written by UCLA under a Phase I STTR (ONR AINS program). The third was under the control of the standard Piccolo operator interface. The UCLA software utilized the client/server communications SDK for piccolo and generated commands for formation flying of two aircraft at different altitudes. This was the second time teaming has been demonstrated using the Piccolo system.

December 19 2002 - ACR demonstrates multiple aircraft from a single Ground Station and Operator Interface

Advanced Ceramics Research (ACR) today demonstrated the ability to operate multiple aircraft from a single Ground Station and Operator Interface by simultaneously flying two AINS SWARM vehicles autonomously using Cloud Cap Technology's "Piccolo" system. The 30-minute flight was the first demonstration of fully autonomous multi aircraft operation using the Piccolo autopilot*. This feature allows a single operator to control and monitor multiple UAV's using a single Ground Station and communications link. This is a paradigm shift since most UAV platforms typically require multiple operators to control a single vehicle and multiple Ground Control Stations to operate multiple aircraft.

* A group of Lockheed Martin engineers simultaneously flew multiple aircraft using the Piccolo system prior to this (see October news release) but only one was flying autonomously.

Top of Page

December 6, 2002 - Cloud Cap Technology's Piccolo used to demonstrate team-based control of two small UAV's.

Lockheed Martin Owego demonstrated team-based control of two small UAV's using LM decision aiding technology and digital map products. Cloud Cap Technology's Piccolo Autopilot and Ground Station controlled the small UAV's. The LM decision aiding software communicated to one UAV via a server embedded in the Piccolo Operator Interface. During the demo one aircraft was flown autonomously and was rerouted in flight by the LM decision aiding software. Simultaneously a second aircraft was flown manually with both operating over a single communications channel. LM will next be using the Piccolo system to extend the decision aiding technology to control a team of 4 small UAV's simultaneously.

October 22, 2002 - Cloud Cap Technology and NAVAIR China Lake team up for successful first flight of Navy target drone equipped with modified Piccolo avionics.

NAVAIR China Lake and Cloud Cap Technology teamed for a successful first flight of a Navy target drone, similar to the MQM-107 "Streaker", equipped with a modified Piccolo* avionics. Most of the forty-five minute flight was done under control of the Piccolo, which generated navigation commands to the onboard autopilot and provided both UHF line of sight and satellite communications to the Ground Station.

This flight was the first demonstration of both autonomous flight and over-the-horizon communications for the MQM-107 "Streaker". The Iridium satellite communication network was used to change the flight plan of the vehicle in flight, demonstrating the capability for over-the-horizon operation.

This success was the culmination of an intensive HW and SW integration effort which was completed on a tight schedule and limited budget. Many thanks goes out to our sponsors at The Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program office, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), all of which helped make this possible.

*Piccolo is a small and highly integrated avionics system for flying small, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's). Read more about Piccolo.

Top of Page

June 11, 2002 - Cloud Cap Technology completes second round of integration and flight-testing with the Piccolo on the SWARM UAV.

Cloud Cap Technology and Advanced Ceramic Research crews combined forces again, this time in Tucson, successfully completing round two of SWARM UAV flight testing. Building on our earlier success we worked on configuration and integration details and flight tested the latest version of the Piccolo equipped SWARM vehicle. 

The SWARM UAV concept was developed by Dr. Vince Castelli at the Navy Surface Warfare Center Carderock division. The basic concept is to develop a low cost, expendable, heavy fuel UAV that can be easily reconfigured to accommodate a multitude of payload and mission requirements. This work is part of an ongoing Phase I SBIR program (A Sophisticated Low Cost Avionics for Expendable Unmanned Aircraft) sponsored by the Office of Naval Research. The SWARM airframe and engine are under a similar development program being led by Advanced Ceramic Research. 

April 30, 2002 - Cloud Cap Technology completes initial series of flight tests with the Piccolo autopilot on the Navy SWARM UAV.

Last week we successfully completed our 10th flight with the Advanced Ceramic Research/ONR prototype airframe with the Piccolo system installed. Initial testing focused on communications, GPS and flight sensor validation. Follow on testing exercised the autopilot and tracker as well as the drag and drop flight planning features of the ground station. This was a significant milestone in that it was the first autonomous flight for both the Piccolo autopilot as well as the SWARM aircraft. This work is part of an ongoing Phase I SBIR program (A Sophisticated Low Cost Avionics for Expendable Unmanned Aircraft) sponsored by the Office of Naval Research. The SWARM airframe and engine are under a similar development program being led by Advanced Ceramic Research. 

Top of Page

February 12, 2002 - Cloud Cap Technology awarded Navy Phase I SBIR contract to develop low cost avionics for expendable Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

In the second SBIR round of 2001 Cloud Cap Technology was awarded a contract for a phase I proposal answering topic number N01-147 - "Very Low Cost Unmanned Air Vehicle Avionics". Under the contract Cloud Cap Technology will deliver a prototype small avionics package suitable for expendable UAV's. The proposed system is a re-engineered version of the Piccolo avionics system. Called PiccoloLT, the new system will tradeoff the flexibility of the Piccolo system in favor of even lower system cost. The initial phase of the contract is worth $70,000 and runs from February through July of 2002. 


January 2, 2002 - Cloud Cap Technology supports Montana State University electrical and computer engineering senior design course.

Cloud Cap Technology and MSU students are collaborating to develop a device to control and monitor multiple model aircraft servos over a CAN (Controller Area Network) bus. Such a CAN servo controller should prove useful in small unmanned vehicle applications where size, weight and EMI protection are critical.

September 31, 2001 - Cloud Cap Technology completes work on OSD Phase I SBIR contract to develop a meteorological sensing platform for small UAV's.

Cloud Cap Technology completed a contract with the office of the secretary of defense for a preliminary design of a meteorological sensing system for small UAV's. The system was designed to provide pressure, temperature, humidity, and wind measurements for use in short term forecasting and nowcasting numerical weather models. The design emphasized rapid integration onto host vehicles, with a minimum impact on the vehicle performance.

Top of Page

June 21, 2001 - Cloud Cap Technology performs Aerosonde demonstration flight for NASA observers prior to the operational deployment in the CAMEX4 experiment.

This summer personnel from NASA and the Hurricane Hunters visited us to see firsthand an Aerosonde flight conducted at the Wasco OR airport. They came to evaluate the necessary safety precautions required for using the Aerosonde in the fourth Convection And Moisture Experiment (CAMEX-4). The visit went well, including the two-hour demonstration flight.