Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are no longer strangers at aerospace and defense exhibitions, but BAE Systems’ Herti claims a world’s first as a fully autonomous UAV system. The little airplane making its Singapore debut in the static park here doesn’t look very exciting but appearances can deceive and Herti has proven to be a remarkably capable system–not just a reliable platform carrying a variety of sensors.
Furthermore, it can claim to be combat proven, having spent some time at a UK armed forces base in Afghanistan, where its remarkable on-board data processing capability showed that Herti can provide an answer to information overload problems by responding to precise information requests from command headquarters many thousands of miles away.
Systematically surveying ground areas using its wide- and narrow-field-of-view cameras, Herti had employed its autonomous collection, processing and dissemination of high-quality imagery capability. Headquarters staff far away at RAF Waddington in the UK were able to choose which particular area in a surveillance swathe they wanted to see in greater detail. Within ten seconds of the request, Herti provided the required visuals.
For tasks such as border patrol, surveillance of battlefields and forays behind enemy lines, Herti can provide new levels of autonomy and reliability. Indeed, it offers users in both military and civil environments a range of capabilities that have not been available until now.
Herti can stay on station for up to 20 hours, operating between 5,000 and 10,000 feet, but BAE Systems is developing a standoff sensor for use at heights of up to 20,000 feet. Controlled by a crew of three from a ground station in a 20-feet ISO container or mounted on a Land Rover, Herti requires a mission planner, UAV monitor and an operator for the company’s Imagery Collection & Exploitation system.
Although a production configuration vehicle is on exhibit here, BAE Systems plans to develop a series of vehicles to undertake widely different tasks. Moreover, the company does not intend to limit the technology to UAVs, but rather intends to adapt the technology for use on unmanned submersibles, boats and ground vehicles, allowing them to interact with one another.