Norway's Ubiq Aerospace is launching a drone deicing system that should be ready for commercial customers in late 2019 or early 2020, CEO Kim Sorensen told AIN yesterday. While Ubiq has not set a price for the system, Sorensen said it will be cost effective and that Ubiq is looking for manufacturing partners on the carbon-nano thermal panel components of the system and to address any industry certification standards. He said the design is CANaerospace (Controller Area Network) compliant and designed to work with established vehicle communication protocols. The patent-pending system began tests aboard a NASA Dragon Eye in 2015.
The system is an offshoot of Sorensen's 2013 Ph.D. research at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's Research Center of Excellence for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems (AMOS). Sorensen said his research was inspired by the U.S. Coast Guard's issue with icing of UAS aboard ice breakers. Sorensen and his team were able to integrate the compact system into a Dragon Eye, a UAS with a wingspan of one meter, for flight testing.
The fully autonomous and automatic system, which has four main elements—thermal panels with embedded temperature sensors, an energy source, a central computational unit, and atmospheric sensors—can be scaled up to aircraft the size of a USAF Global Hawk. The system, driven by intelligent control algorithms, automatically turns itself on and off and is designed to use the minimum power required to achieve safe deicing, Sorensen said. “There is a lower boundary for what power you do require to ensure that icing doesn't build or you can deice, and we are trying get as close to that boundary as possible,” he said.
Sorensen said Ubiq will begin work on deicing solutions for rotored UAS systems this summer and is already working with Norway's defense department. “The technology is transferable [to rotor],” he said.