High Gain Antenna Gimbal (HGAG) for the rover Perseverance of the Mars 2020 mission
The DIEDRO program combines the use of land and air robots.
sENER Aeroespacial and the Instituto Tecnológico de Galicia (ITG) are together developing the DIEDRO program, which combines land and air robots to remotely detect improvised explosive devices (IED). Led by ITG, DIEDRO is part of an annual call for R&D projects of interest to defense that is convened by the Spanish Directorate General of Armament and Matériel, as part of the Program for Cooperation in Scientific Research and Development of Strategic Technologies (2021 Coincidente Program).
DIEDRO focuses on combining the capabilities of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) to address the problem of detecting IEDs used in military or terrorist activities.
As a result, DIEDRO aims to integrate a UAV with technology developed by ITG, and a UGV developed by SENER Aeroespacial, into a single reconnaissance vehicle that can leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and Deep Learning techniques to detect the threat of an IED. Once it locates an IED, it can send a robotic vehicle to disable the electronics that activate the IED by using electromagnetic pulses.
To do this, DIEDRO combines technologies that are currently being successfully applied for civilian use with developments from military applications to maximize the expected benefit. In addition, the project features an interface that can simplify how these vehicles are controlled, and that lets the operator efficiently and accurately locate and neutralize the threat.
The main goal of the DIEDRO project is to demonstrate the feasibility of combining the use of ground and aerial robots to detect and deactivate IEDs by using a common interface. In particular, DIEDRO will demonstrate the following four objectives:
Depending on the project phase, SENER Aeroespacial and the ITG hope to have a prototype validated in 24 months from the time the contract is signed.
For SENER Aeroespacial, DIEDRO is a new benchmark in the unmanned vehicle segment, where the engineering company has important projects underway in both UGV, where it applies NAVIGROUND autonomous navigation solutions to different land platforms used by the Armed Forces, and where it is also involved in the ARCO project; and in UAV, with projects such as the NATO Pod, designed and manufactured by SENER Aeroespacial and that General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) incorporates into the MQ-9 line that it markets in Europe. SENER Aeroespacial is also a member of the SATNUS Technologies consortium, along with GMV and TECNOIT-GRUPO Oesia, which seeks to lead from Spain the development of new technologies and systems for unmanned vehicles of the European Future Combat Air System (FCAS), as part of the NGWS (Next Generation Weapon System).
For ITG, this research represents another step in the application of its expertise in the field of unmanned aerial systems, sensors and artificial intelligence. ITG will develop a portable robotic hangar integrated into a carrier vehicle, a development of DroneSafeBox, the nesting concept already used in civilian applications by ITG. The drone and the robotic hangar would be connected at all times, allowing the information collected by the sensors to be sent in real time. In addition, the hangar would allow the UAV to be charged automatically, providing for continuous operations with the same unit and reducing operational costs.
The drone will have to be equipped with different optronic and multispectral sensors, including in the visible and infrared bands, as well as sensors to detect the vapors given off by certain types of IED. The information captured by these sensors would be sent in real time to the control center installed in the carrier vehicle, where it would be processed to combine the different sources. This would include processing the information using an artificial vision algorithm that would rely on artificial intelligence to detect potential IED.