Innovative drone tech has taken flight at the Paris Air Show this year, with a revolutionary tethered drones from Atlas that touts unlimited flight time. This cutting-edge feature was showcased by the drone start-up founded by Ivan Tolchinsky, which is also known for supplying Ukrainian forces with resilient small drones.
The highlight of Atlas's presence at the airshow is their AtlasTETHER system. This allows a drone to stay connected to a ground controller, supplying the drone with converted power and enabling it to hover indefinitely. Power can be fed from a regular power socket, generator, or vehicle charger.
Importantly, the tether provides two-way communication, eliminating the need for a radio link. The drone and the ground controller will not emit radio emissions; hence they're less likely to be spotted and targeted by electronic warfare systems. If the tether power and communication are compromised, the drone is programmed to land safely on its battery power.
This tethering technology isn't new, but its application certainly is. The German military operated a Tethered drone as far back as 1972 but had limited success. Over the years, tethered drones have remained a niche market because they cannot match the operational flexibility of unattached drones.
However, Atlas has teamed up with Elistair, a French company that labels itself as ‘the tethered drone company'. They have previously demonstrated 50-hour continuous flights with their small electric drones. Applying this technology to the AtlasPRO drone and its battlefield sensors brings an added dimension to their utility in warfare.
Undoubtedly, the Ukrainian conflict has identified a need for such technology. Drone-guided artillery fire has substantially improved the precision of Ukraine's artillery, but keeping it in operation is demanding. With each drone's airtime limited to roughly twenty minutes, the crews constantly need to replace batteries.
This is where tethered drones, despite their fixed viewpoint, could offer a more efficient solution. They provide an economical way for an artillery spotter to locate targets and guide artillery fire for hours, all thanks to the enhanced bandwidth over the tether system. This innovation, showcased at the Paris Air Show, is a potent testament to the evolution of Drone Technology, fuelled by the crucible of conflict.
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