The Mosquito UHV-T isn’t Meggitt’s only target system that benefits from NovAtel technology. Meggitt has integrated NovAtel products across its f leet of unmanned vehicles, Godbolt said, and use the company’s systems on other vehicles in a testing and evaluation role. This helps qualify the systems as well as provide customers with the detailed information they need about a vehicle’s performance.
“The main benefits to us for test and evaluation is the accuracy and the quality of the NovAtel sensors,” Godbolt said.
Meggitt recently used NovAtel SPAN technology to illustrate how the Humpback Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) handles in the ocean, Godbolt said. The Humpback is based on Meggitt’s Hammerhead USVT, which is a cost-effective kill target that replicates Fast Inshore Attack Craft (FIAC) and multi-vehicle swarms. The Humpback shares many of the same features as the Hammerhead, except it’s powered by a diesel engine and can be modified for specific payloads or special uses.
“This was an important stage in the development of the product,” Godbolt said of the information they received from NovAtel’s SPAN. “It allowed us to show how the boat is pitching and rolling as it travels over the waves.”
The two-centimetre precise positioning is another huge benefit that NovAtel’s SPAN provides, Godbolt said, and using the company’s post-processing software, Inertial Explorer®, means achieving the two centimetres doesn’t have to be computed in real time. The team can do that after the fact, which translates into a reduced need for communications infrastructure—saving time and money while still enabling the team to achieve the same precise positioning results.
Keeping it Local
Meggitt Target Systems works with local manufacturers such as NovAtel whenever possible, and even made the Mosquito
UHV-T’s development a completely Canadian initiative. It’s clear that as the unmanned systems industry continues to grow, companies in Western Canada are taking advantage of the opportunity this growth represents, and making their mark as innovators in this industry.
In fact, Alberta has emerged as Canada’s leader in UAS development. More than 70 companies, military agencies and educational institutions are involved in some facet of the industry, including research, testing, development and manufacturing. This has been a huge help to Meggitt as the company works to develop its unmanned targets.
“Because of the terrain and business climate, it appears to us that a lot of these companies have been able to blossom,” Malley said. “This technology can be used across various industries and must come with robust navigation systems and data links. Having companies that develop the UAS infrastructure in our own backyard has been a huge benefit to Meggitt.”
While Meggitt turns to NovAtel for reliable positioning, Alberta’s MicroHard supplies the data link that gives operators constant vehicle control, enhancing safety, Godbolt said. MicroHard’s lightweight, reliable products are rugged and provide long range, high-speed links.
Lockheed Martin Canada CDL Systems, also based in Alberta, provides Meggitt with ground control station softwares. The company specializes in developing and licensing vehicle control station software for unmanned systems, and its open architecture, low-cost interoperable software product has been integrated into numerous unmanned vehicle platforms in Canada and all over the world.
Last year, Meggitt and Lockheed Martin Canada CDL Systems held a vehicle demonstration in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and other key stakeholders. During the demo, Meggitt’s Barracuda USV-T was controlled directly from the company’s Combat Management System on the Halifax Class frigates. The team completed multiple missions to show how USVs serve as a natural extension of the technology already installed and maintained on the RCN’s modernized frigates—demonstrating Canada’s ability to deliver advanced, custom unmanned vehicle platforms.