Nashville, Tenn., April 4, 2012. AeroVironment unveiled a new miniature gimbaled sensor payload for the RQ-11B Raven small UAV.
The modular payload includes high-resolution color and an infrared thermal video sensor, as well as a laser illuminator integrated into a multi-axis sphere capable of continuous pan. The new payload will become a standard component of future Raven systems and will be sold as an upgrade for previously fielded units. Upgrading existing digital Raven systems to accommodate the new payload requires a software update to each vehicle and ground control station.
The new payload is one of four products offered in AeroVironment's "Mantis" suite of gimbaled sensor payloads.
A gimbaled sensor payload allows continuous observation of an item of interest regardless of the air vehicle's flight direction. The new payload also replaces two separate Raven system payloads that were previously required for day and night operation, one with an electro-optical sensor and the other with an infrared sensor.
In addition, flight algoritihms allow the air vehicle to manage its own flight path based on what the user wants to see, rather than requiring the user to control both the air vehicle and the sensor separately.
This gimbaled sensor payload marks the fourth upgrade for the Raven system since its introduction in 2003, following the release of AeroVironment's digital data link (DDL) to replace the Raven system's original analog communication modules.