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Channel Island National Marine Sanctuaries Continues Successful PUMA AE UAS Autonomous Net Capture System Testing

NOAA R.V. Shearwater supports the Spiral Development of UAS technologies currently being deployed by the United States Navy, Coast Guard and NOAA

On February 9th, an AeroVironment team met with NOAA personnel and departed Santa Barbara aboard NOAA R/V Shearwater for the operations area in the Channel Island National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS) for on-going testing of the Puma-AE Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).  This continues a strategic partnership between NOAA and industry in support of the Spiral Development of this UAS technology currently being deployed by the United States Navy, Coast Guard and NOAA. 

The operations were conducted under FAA Part 107 rules with all flights below 400′ AGL and within 1 nm of the R/V Shearwater.  With the marine layer not lifting until the afternoon, the team was able to conduct all the test flights once the weather cleared.  UAS approaches to the R/V Shearwater were conducted on two different differential GPS (dGPS) ground stations, the Hit Me dGPS, and the triangle net.  Additionally, the newly developed technologies (the 6AS antenna, M1/25 diversity antenna and 2MHz channels) were exercised.   

The testing included five flights and 1.9 hours of flight time with the mission deemed “a success” achieving another milestone for future NOAA, Navy and Coast Guard deployments. According to NOAA’s Mission Commander, Todd Jacobs, “The system and standard operating procedures to continue to mature, and the automation is improving to a very high level of reliability.  This will help us not only during our Sanctuary surveys, but during our Arctic deployments where the GPS signals are more difficult to lock on to.”

AeroVironment will be able to successfully deploy this system with USN later this month and is hoping to support NOAA and USCG for Arctic Shield 2017, as previously done through the NOAA UAS Program’s Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA).