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Title:
UAV LAUNCH AND RECOVERY
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/094543
Kind Code:
A4
Abstract:
A UAV support vehicle carries a UAV support apparatus for launching and/or recovering a UAV while the UAV support vehicle is moving. The UAV support apparatus releases the UAV during launch and receives the UAV during recovery. An active suspension may be connected between the UAV support vehicle and at least a portion of the UAV support apparatus and reduce motion imparted to that portion of the UAV support apparatus. During UAV recovery, data from a synchronization link between the UAV and the UAV support vehicle may be used to maneuver the UAV and/or the UAV support vehicle.

Inventors:
MCKEE, Thomas, Sandlin (153 Maple Street, Madison, AL, 35758, US)
RODEN, Steve, Conrad (133 West Park Loop, Huntsville, AL, 35806, US)
Application Number:
US2015/064771
Publication Date:
June 16, 2016
Filing Date:
December 09, 2015
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
LOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION (6801 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD, 20817, US)
International Classes:
B64F1/10; B64C39/02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JONES, Eric, T. (Reising Ethington P.C, P.O. Box 4390Troy, MI, 48099-4390, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
AMENDED CLAIMS

received by the International Bureau on 3 August 2016 (03.08.2016)

1. A system for supporting UAV operations, the system comprising:

a UAV support vehicle capable of moving through an air mass at a speed suitable for recovering a UAV, and also capable of moving through an air mass at a speed suitable for launching a UAV into the air mass;

a UAV support apparatus that is carried by the UAV support vehicle, is actuable to release the UAV in a UAV launch operation, and is actuable to capture a UAV in a UAV recovery operation; and

an active suspension connected between the UAV support vehicle and at least a portion of the UAV support apparatus and programmed to reduce motion imparted to at least that portion of the UAV support apparatus.

2. Cancelled

3. The system of claim 2 in which the UAV support apparatus is configured to detect lift generated by the UAV and to release the UAV when the UAV is generating sufficient lift to support flight.

4. The system of claim 1 in which the UAV support apparatus comprises tongs actuable to capture a UAV in a UAV recovery operation.

5. The system of claim 4 in which the tongs comprise at least one pair of tongs hinged in opposition to allow alternate relative motion toward and away from a closed position.

6. The system of claim 5 in which the support apparatus comprises at least one strap secured at each of two strap ends to respective outer ends of the at least one pair of tongs.

7. The system of claim 6 in which each pair of tongs includes a linear actuator coupled with a controller programmed to command the linear actuator to alternately open and close the pairs of tongs.

8. The system of claim 7 in which the controller is programmed to control UAV deceleration by scheduling the closing of the pairs of tongs.

9. The system of claim 6 in which the support apparatus includes a ratchet mechanism that permits relative motion of the at least one pair of tongs toward the closed position and resists motion of the at least one pair of tongs away from the closed position.

10. The system of claim 1 in which the U AV support apparatus:

comprises tongs actuable to receive, carry, and release the UAV; and

is reconftgurable to move the tongs between;

a launch position facing a UAV support vehicle direction of travel for carrying and releasing a UAV in a UAV launch operation, and

a recovery position facing opposite the UAV support vehicle direction of travel for capturing a UAV in a UAV recovery operation.

11. The system of claim 1 , the system further comprising:

a UAV controller coupled with the UAV;

a support vehicle controller coupled with the UAV support vehicle; and

a synchronization link coupling the UAV controller and the UAV support vehicle controller and configured to share data relating to the UAV and the UAV support vehicle.

12. The system of claim 11 in which the UAV controller is programmed to command the UAV to intercept a UAV support vehicle in response to data received from the synchronization link.

13. Hie system of claim 11 in which the support vehicle controller is programmed to command the support vehicle to intercept the UAV In response to data received from the synchronization link.

14. The system of claim 13 in which the active suspension is programmed to reduce motion imparted to at least a portion of the UAV support apparatus, and to execute commands from the support vehicle controller in response to data received from the synchronization link.

15. The system of claim 12 in which the UAV support vehicle controller is programmed to use data from the synchronization link to command the support vehicle to command the active suspension to move at least a portion of the support apparatus to a position facilitating capture of an airborne UAV during a UAV recovery operation.

16. A method of deploying a UAV, the method comprising:

providing a UAV on a UAV support apparatus carried by a UAV support vehicle;

moving the support vehicle through an air mass at a speed suitable for launching the UAV in self-powered flight through the air mass;

reducing motion imparted to at least a portion of the UAV support apparatus by actuating an active suspension connected between at least a portion of the UAV support apparatus and at least a portion of the UAV support vehicle; and

releasing the UAV from the UAV support apparatus.

17. The method of claim 16 in which the step of releasing the UAV includes detecting lift generated by the UAV and releasing the UAV when the UAV is generating sufficient lift to support flight.

18. A method of capturing an airborne UAV during a UAV recovery operation, the method comprising:

moving a UAV support vehicle through an air mass at a speed suitable for capturing an airborne UAV;

establishing a synchronization link between the UAV and the UAV support vehicle; referencing data from the synchronization link to maneuver at least one of the UAV or the UAV support vehicle into respective positions allowing the UAV support vehicle to capture the airborne UAV; and

causing the UAV support vehicle to capture the UAV.

19. The method of claim 1 S in which :

the step of moving the UAV support vehicle through an air mass includes moving a UAV support vehicle through an air mass while carrying a UAV support apparatus;

the step of establishing a synchronization link includes establishing at least one such link between the UAV support apparatus and at least one of the UAV or the UAV support vehicle; the referencing step includes referencing data from the at least one synchronization link to maneuver at least one of the UAV, the UAV support vehicle, or the UAV support apparatus into respective positions allowing capture of the airborne UAV; and

the capture step includes causing the UAV support apparatus to capture the UAV.

20. The method of claim 18 including the additional step of reducing motion imparted to the UAV support apparatus, by actuating an active suspension connected between at least a portion of the UAV support apparatus and at least a portion of the UAV support vehicle.