The new unmanned aerial system AR5 Life Ray, developed by technological Group TEKEVER, has been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to create the first European maritime surveillance system composed of drones.
The RAPSODY Project, led by TEKEVER, will test the use of unmanned aerial systems in a maritime context through real-world demonstration of two scenarios: search and rescue missions; and pollution and oil spill monitoring. The systems will operate over the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. This is the first time unmanned aerial systems will be introduced into maritime surveillance missions in Europe.
It is expected that the first year of this significant two-year long project will be dedicated to the integration of the various sensors that will board the aircraft, developing on-board sensor algorithms to improve operational performance, as well as optimizing data transmission according to the type of missions that the system will carry out. In the second year of the project, there will be tests and demonstrations that will put the system in real scenarios and prepare it for a fully commercial use.
“The AR5 Life Ray Evolution is one of our larger platforms. With a wingspan of 4.3 meters and a payload of 50 kg, the AR5 is capable of performing 8 to 12 hours missions and has the most suitable design for the RAPSODY project. With the use of satellite communications, our system is geared to perform multiple types of long-range missions, including search and rescue, surveillance and maritime patrol and pollution detection, among others”, explains Ricardo Mendes, COO of TEKEVER. “The AR5 is a clear advance in our systems, providing an excellent way to complement maritime surveillance operations, with a lower cost and greater flexibility than manned systems, as well as responding to the huge challenges posed by the European maritime space”.
The RAPSODY project is the result of a consortium lead by TEKEVER, which is responsible for providing and adapting the AR5 Life Ray system. Bond Air Services (UK) is responsible for the operation of the system, while TEKEVER UK manages the creation and adaptation of the sensor platform, the development of fusion algorithms and data processing. DSI Information Technik (Germany) is responsible for assuring security on sensor data transmission.
The European Maritime Safety Agency will establish and validate operational requirements and coordinate all institutional relationships with the multiple end users of the system, including the Portuguese Navy, the Maritime Authorities of Malta and the Spanish Rescue and Safety Maritime Society.