National Unmanned Aircraft SystemsUAS Project Office

Platforms

DOI’s UAS operational strategy emphasizes a focus on small UAS (sUAS), which better aligns with DOI’s decentralized mission execution strategy as well as funding, personnel and infrastructure levels.

The National UAS Project Office’s (NUPO) implementation of this strategy began in 2009 when a partnership with the U.S. Army provided access to two sUAS platforms surplused by the military, the AeroVironment Raven fixed-wing aircraft and the Honeywell T-Hawk vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) system. This jump-started NUPO’s ability to evaluate sUAS technology and helped establish the operational procedures that resulted in the successful completion of the first of many FAA approved DOI UAS missions conducted in the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS).

Once these efforts demonstrated the value of sUAS technology the NUPO started work that continues today with the DOI Office of Aviation Services (OAS) to integrate newer, less expensive and more flexible platforms compatible with more advanced scientific-grade sensors.

BirdsEyeView FireFLY6 PRO
FireFLY6 PRO
FireFLY6 PRO
The BirdsEyeView FireFLY6 PRO can operate as a either a fixed wing or hover platform and has a Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) capability that can operate in a 10x10 foot (3x3m) area. In addition it supports a wide variety of plug-n-play sensor payloads including: Gimbaled FLIR Veu Pro R, MicaSense RedEdge, Sony RXIRII, and Slantrange 3P.
Specifications:
Launch Weight: 9.6 pounds (includes payload and batteries)
Payload Capacity: 1.5 lbs. (0.7 kg)
Length: 33.70"
Width: 28.53"
Depth: 16.37"
Wingspan: 5 feet rotor tip to rotor tip
Estimated Flight Time: 50-59 minutes
Power: Electric (rechargeable lithium polymer batteries)
Maximum Altitude: 12,000 MSL
Range: 3+ nautical miles
Launching the FireFLY6
Launching the FireFLY6
FireFLY6 plug-n-play payload mounts
FireFLY6 plug-n-play payload mounts
Pilot landing the FireFLY6
Pilot landing the FireFLY6

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3DR Solo
3DR Solo
3DR Solo
The 3DR Solo is a quad-rotor aerial vehicle powered by the 3DR Pixhawk 2 autopilot system and APM:Copter flight control software. The Solo communicates with the controller and Solo app over the 3DR Link secure Wi-Fi connection.
Specifications:
Motor-to-motor dimensions: 18 in. (26 cm)
Height: 10 in. (25 cm)
Empty Weight: 3.3 lbs. (1.5 kg)
Payload Capacity: 1.1 lbs. (500 g)
Power: Electric (rechargeable lithium polymer battery)
Estimated Flight Time: 25 minutes*
Maximum Altitude: 328 ft. (100 m)
Range: .5 miles (.8 km)
Cruise Speed: 5.7 mph (2.5 m/s)
Camera: Streaming video compatible with GoPro® HERO 3, 3+ or 4
Joe Adams landing the 3DR Solo
Preparing the 3DR Solo for flight
Preparing the 3DR Solo for flight
Todd Burton flying the Solo
Todd Burton flying the Solo

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Pulse Vapor 55™ Helicopter
Pulse Vapor 55™ Helicopter
Pulse Vapor 55™ Helicopter
The Pulse Aerospace Vapor 55™ is capable of carrying larger payloads up to 30 lbs including survey-grade airborne lidar and next generation high definition EO/IR brushless gimbals. The Vapor 55™ carries a 12 lb., front mounted sensor that can operate for up to 60 minutes on a single charge.
Specifications:
Main Rotor: Diameter 90 in
Dimensions: 77 x 26 x 23
Empty Weight: 19 lbs
Payload Capacity: 10 lbs (33 lbs useful load)
Estimated Flight Time (Hover): 45 Minutes
Estimated Flight Time (Cruise): 60 Minutes
Maximum Altitude: 15,000 ft
Range: 5 Miles
Cruise Speed: 25 mph
Payload Compatibility: HD EO/MWIR brushless camera ball, Riegl VUX-1 LiDAR with survey grade GNSS/IMU, High resolution aerial photography imagers
Todd Burton preparing the Pulse for flight
Todd Burton preparing the Pulse for flight
Pulse in flight
Pulse in flight
Pulse flight and ground control station
Pulse flight and ground control station

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Retired Platforms

Falcon Fixed Wing
Bungee launch of the Falcon Fixed Wing
Bungee launch of the Falcon Fixed Wing
Falcon is a fixed wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is bungee launched using a single bungee cord attached to any object/structure that can withstand the pull force of 15lbs (8kg). The bungee launch provides most of the energy for launch thereby reducing the physical strength requirements to launch the aircraft. Falcon uses a parachute recovery as the primary landing method however a secondary landing method is a conventional belly landing.
Specifications:
Assembled Dimensions: 96" width (span) x 17" height x 54" length
Endurance: 60+ min (operations/mission dependent)
Take Off Weight: Up to 12 lbs (Payload Dependent)
Payload Weight: Up to 2.5 lbs
Cruise Speed: 27 knots
Operating Altitude: Up to 2000 ft AGL
Joe Adams using the bungee method to launch the Falcon Fixed Wing
Parachute landing of the Falcon Fixed Wing
Parachute landing of the Falcon Fixed Wing
Retrieving the Falcon Fixed Wing after parachute landing
Retrieving the Falcon Fixed Wing after parachute landing
Falcon Hover
Falcon Hover
Falcon Hover
Falcon Hover is a Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft. The VTOL launch and recovery of the aircraft allow for operations in tightly constrained locations including forested area, narrow paths, roadways, parks, parking lots, etc. Takeoffs and landings can be conducted in areas smaller than 8ft x 8ft.
Specifications:
Assembled Dimensions: 48" maximum tip to tip / 6" tall (without modular legs)
Launch Method: Vertical Takeoff
Recovery Method: Vertical Landing
Endurance: 20-25+ min @ 5,800' MSL (operations/mission dependent)
Take Off Weight: Up to 7.5 lbs (Payload Dependent)
Payload Weight: Up to 2.5 lbs
Speed: 0 to 15 knots
T-Hawk RQ-16A
Take-off of the T-Hawk RQ-16A
Take-off of the T-Hawk RQ-16A
The RQ-16A T-Hawk, is a Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Air Vehicle (AV) capable of manual and autonomous flight that employs a gasoline engine to power a lift-augmented ducted fan and uses the global positioning system (GPS) for guidance. Interchangeable sensors allow the AV to be configured with either a gimbal mounted electro-optical (EO) camera or gimbal mounted infrared (IR) camera.
Specifications:
System Weight: 51 lbs
AV Weight: 17.2 lbs (19.2 lbs with fuel)
Flight Duration: 40 minutes
Height: 23 inches
Diameter: 23.5 inches
Speed: 45 mph
Range: 6.2 miles (10 km) for line of sight (LOS)
Winds: 15 knots startup, 20 knots in flight
T-Hawk RQ-16A ground control station
T-Hawk RQ-16A ground control station
T-Hawk RQ-16A coming in for a landing
T-Hawk RQ-16A coming in for a landing
Raven RQ-11A
Raven RQ-11A
Raven RQ-11A
The Raven small unmanned aerial vehicle (SUAV) is a hand launched reconnaissance and surveillance tool. The system transmits live airborne video images, compass headings and location information to a ground control unit (GCU) and remote video terminal (RVT). The Raven aircraft is hand launched without the need of special equipment or landing area required. The system employs a self-stabilizing aircraft configuration with stability augmentation avionics and provides ease of control and steady video imagery. The optics package includes an electrooptical (EO) color camera nose payload (side and forward look on the same payload) and two infrared (IR) thermal nose payloads (a side look payload or a forward look payload). The Raven system is typically operated by a two person team consisting of a Pilot and Mission Controller.
Specifications:
Length: 36 inches
Wingspan: 55 inches
Weight: 4.2 lbs
Operating Altitude: > 300 feet AGL (above ground level)
Cruising Speed: 30 mph
Range: 6.2 miles (10 km) for line of sight (LOS)
Flight duration: 60-90 minutes
Pre-flight check of the Raven RQ-11A
Pre-flight check of the Raven RQ-11A
Hand launching the Raven RQ-11A
Hand launching the Raven RQ-11A
Raven RQ-11A flight and ground control station
Raven RQ-11A flight and ground control station