W.S. Darley & Company has launched a new technology division that will encompass all of the company’s current drone, virtual reality, and training programs, while expanding to meet emerging customer needs in the unmanned systems market. The new entity is called the Unmanned Systems, Metaverse & Robotics (USMR) Division.
“There is a strong demand across the fire, rescue, law enforcement, and defense markets to align unmanned systems capabilities from low earth orbit to under the water,” said Peter Darley, Darley’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Using a ‘system of systems’ approach with our strategic partners, Darley’s USMR Division will work to bridge the technology gap between unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), surface/ground systems and undersea systems to provide technology integration for future capabilities.”
Dave Givey, Darley’s defense market manager, noted that Darley introduced the Ghost Robotics Vision 60 Quadrupedal Unmanned Ground Vehicle (Q-UGV) at FDIC International 2022, a ground drone that integrates payloads to support first responders that can serve in a hazardous materials capacity to go into areas to detect chemical or biologic pathogens, or in a search and rescue capacity to perform subterranean mapping in building collapses like the Surfside building collapse in Florida.
The Q-UGV is a mid-sized, high-endurance, agile and durable all-weather (IP67) four-legged ground drone that carries an array of payloads, and through its five onboard cameras, provides 360 degrees of video imaging, Givey says, as well as managing to handle unstructured terrain very well. Givey points out that the quadrupedal robot can easily enter hazardous spaces that would be difficult for humans, and through its internal sensing systems and other added payload sensors, can send back information to an incident commander to determine if the area/space is safe for humans. The unit also has an arm attachment that can be used to pick up items or take samples.
Givey says that Ghost Robotics is developing a smaller quadrupedal unit called the Vision 45 in response to feedback from fire departments and agencies involved in search and rescue. “The Vision 45 prototype is about two-thirds of the size of the Vision 60 unit,” he says, “a much smaller and easier deployable unit that can get into tighter spaces.”
Givey pointed out that Darley has sold thousands of UAVs in the market already, from DJI Matrice and Mavic models, to Autel Robotics EVO II Enterprise, and the Parrot ANAFI USA GOV, which is one of the few drones approved by the U.S. federal government.
Jeb Brown, Darley’s director of unmanned systems, says that the DJI UAVs, (the Matrice 300 RTK series and the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced unit), have proven to be very popular with the fire service, but that the Autel EVO II Enterprise and the Parrot ANAFI drones are garnering a lot of interest.
The Matrice 300 offers up to 55 minutes of flight time, advanced artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, and six directional sensing and positioning settings, while the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced drone offers a powerful thermal imaging camera, a digital camera, data security features, an ADS-B receiver and obstacle avoidance capabilities.
The Autel EVO II Enterprise has new camera and accessories features, carbon-fiber arms, and specially designed props that lower its acoustic signature. The Parrot ANAFI USA GOV offers advanced flight features, high end security, durability, and a wide range of imaging capabilities. Brown notes the Parrot unit was designed as the short-range reconnaissance (SRR) drone for the U.S. Army.