Tuesday, November 21, 2017
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AREND UAV to be flight tested in 2018

The AREND UAV.A team of university students is preparing to begin flight tests early next year of their AREND unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which will be used to prevent rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park.

AREND (Aircraft for Rhino and ENvironmental Defence) is being developed by a team made up of students from the University of Colorado (in charge of the payload, electric propulsion system and communications system), University of Pretoria (fuselage, camera gimbal, landing and launch systems, integration), the University of Stuttgart in Germany (wings, empennage), and the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences (ground network).

Dr Lelanie Smith, a Lecturer at the University of Pretoria, told delegates at the 2017 Association of Old Crows electronic warfare conference on 8 November that the project began in early 2014. The aircraft was designed from scratch and has a maximum takeoff weight of 18 kg, wingspan of 4.2 metres, range of 90 km, search speed of 72 km/h and stall speed of 47 km/h. The aircraft lands on an extendable skid with an emergency parachute system. A custom gimbal in the nose carries a modular payload that can be changed quickly. The AREND team is working on a catapault launch system, which is ready for testing.

Smith said that airframe integration and testing is scheduled to take place at the end of November, with landing and launch system testing in early December ahead of the beginning of flight testing in mid-January 2018.

AREND was designed to meet the wildlife poaching challenge and find poachers before they kill within the 20 000 square kilometre area of the Kruger National Park. “We decided to be proactive and prevent poachers from finding rhinos in the Kruger Park,” Smith said, noting that the rhino population has declined 90% in past 40 years. As the Kruger National Park is home to 65% of the world’s rhino population, the AREND team decided to develop a concept of operations (CONOPS) for the Park, with AREND to fly search sectors 30 km across. This approach would also be suitable for smaller reserves.
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