Canadian Coast Guard conducts BVLOS trials of UAS in Oklahoma with Martin UAV and Kongsberg Geospatial

Kongsberg Geospatial has announced successful completion of Phase 1 trials of the Martin UAV V-BAT on behalf of the Canadian Coast Guard at a UAS test facility operated by the Chocktaw Indian Nation of Oklahoma, in rural southeastern Oklahoma.

The Canadian Coast Guard is conducting trials of a new long-endurance UAV surveillance system for possible deployment on Canadian Coast Guard Vessels. The Martin UAV V-BAT aircraft was selected to provide the unique ability to combine take-off and landing from the small confines aboard ship with the long endurance of a fixed-wing aircraft while carrying multiple sensors. The project is funded by Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC).

Due to COVID travel restrictions the first trial could not be held in Canada as originally planned, so the Canadian Coast Guard held their first phase of an unmanned system demonstration virtually as the V-BAT flew at the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma’s (CNO) test facility with Kongsberg Geospatial and Martin UAV personnel in attendance, while other teams observed from Canada.

The flights demonstrated rapid launch and recovery, long endurance, confined space take-off and landing, and vehicle and person tracking using electro-optical and infrared cameras. The cameras were aided by an object detection and tracking capability software.

The flights were monitored real-time and live video of the telemetry and payload was streamed to Ottawa Canada for observation by the Canadian Coast Guard. The video feeds were then incorporated into Kongsberg Geospatial Modular ISR Data Analysis and Storage system called MIDAS. MIDAS serves as a “mission intelligence coordinator” to view current and historical sensor feeds of the UAS within a temporal and geospatial context to increase sensor utilization effectiveness.

With Phase 1 concluded successfully, the next phase for the Canadian Coast Guard will be late this summer when Martin UAV and Kongsberg Geospatial go to sea on a Canadian Coast Guard vessel for shipboard demonstration.

“While it may seem strange to have the Canadian Coast Guard conducting drone flights over a cattle ranch in Oklahoma, this was actually a pragmatic decision, given the limitations imposed on travel by the pandemic,” said Paige Cutland, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Kongsberg Geospatial. “The initial trials of the V-BAT were to establish flight performance characteristics that can be evaluated anywhere.”

(Image: Engineers from Martin UAV prepare a V-BAT aircraft for a test flight. The Canadian Coast Guard conducted flight trials of the Martin UAV V-BAT at a UAS test range in Oklahoma)

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