Case Study

2008 - Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation and Assessment (ASTRAEA) Gull Seaplane

ASTRAEA was a £32.4m, 3 year research and design programme whose overarching objective was to tackle the problems facing routine use of UAVs in UK and European airspace. As part of this programme, Flight Refuelling Ltd took on work packages relating to operation of multiple UAVs in the same airspace, and a UAV demonstration. Substantial parts of these work packages were contracted to Blue Bear Systems and Warrior Aero Marine (WAM).
For Blue Bear Systems, this work involved:
  • Integrating all flight systems, including the SNAP miniature UAV autopilot, with the WAM Gull 36, a prototype seaplane UAV
  • Developing a ground control station to support flight trials
  • Managing the flight trials
  • Working up control laws enabling automated flights of the individual Gull demonstrators, and ultimately formation flight based on real-time image processing adapted from in-flight refuelling 

Highlights included:
  • Successful flights of the Gull 36 demonstrator under autopilot control
  • Successful demonstration of vision-based formation flight of two UAVs

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