Sandia Labs names team to build blimp with sensors

RALEIGH, N.C., 6 Oct. 2005. Carolina Unmanned Vehicles, Inc. (CUV) announces a contract for a new version of the Helikite Elevated Platform (HEP) with Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M.

Oct 6th, 2005

RALEIGH, N.C., 6 Oct. 2005. Carolina Unmanned Vehicles, Inc. (CUV) announces a contract for a new version of the Helikite Elevated Platform (HEP) with Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M.

The contract calls for CUV to develop and deliver a communications relay version of HEP, called HEP-CR, to carry a Sandia-supplied communications payload and a camera system.

The platform includes a carrier, a 30-cubic-meter Helikite blimp, and a stabilized camera payload. The carrier, built by Carolina Unmanned Vehicles, is a trailer with helium tanks, winch, and launch equipment for the Helikite. It mounts all the handling equipment in one small trailer towed by an SUV or pickup truck. Many comparable aerostat-handling systems are five to 10 times as large, and require multiple trucks for carriage.

Allsopp Helikites Ltd., of Hampshire, England, builds the Helikite. Smaller and more versatile than comparable units, the patented Helikite supports more payload for its size than any ordinary aerostat and operates in much higher winds than traditional blimp designs, improving system utility and capability in adverse weather. It has lifting surfaces to support the blimp in winds which drive traditional designs into the ground by wind drag. The HEP-CR can be launched in 30 mph wind and continue operations in 40 mph wind. For more information, see www.allsopp.co.uk.

The camera payload designed by Hood Technology, of Hood River, Ore. is a stabilized turret system originally built for Insitu Corp.'s SeaScan UAV and currently being used on Boeing's ScanEagle UAV. It is also used on the SeaFox Unmanned Surface Vessel, which is being prepared for shipment to Iraq. Its gyro stabilized mounting allows detailed surveillance of people and vehicles around the HEP deployment, out to several miles. It is ideally suited to securing base areas in Iraq, and for homeland security missions in the U.S. For more information, see www.exsellinc.com/hood/corporate.

Versions of HEP are also suitable for surveillance / security, communications relay, and research missions. It operates for weeks at a time at a fraction of the cost of comparable aircraft or UAVs. It requires only two technicians, not highly trained pilots or UAV operators. It meets all FAA regulations and operates in FAA controlled airspace without special permission, unlike most UAVs.

Sandia Labs is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corp., a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. For more information, see www.sandia.gov.

Carolina Unmanned Vehicles is a small woman-owned company focused on autonomous and remotely operated sensor platforms, primarily UAVs. They provide both developmental work and technical support and analysis of UAV systems and related components. For more information, see www.carolinaunmanned.com.

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