Our solution is to provide for what we term hyper-mobility, drone based autonomous flying capabilities that would augment traditional aircrafts by providing for quick production, immediate deployment, minimal maintenance and smart reconnaissance capabilities. This will be driven by what we call Outcome Based Adaptive Engineering (OBAE) that uses Model Based System Engineering (MBSE) to set objectives for goal outcomes for each step of the process. OBAE will be used in the design, construction and operations of the Enterprise Test Vehicle in its pilot launch phase and beyond.
This article steps thru the solicitation by DIU and summarizes our perspective, background and intent to fulfill the needs of this project. We have used the exact verbiage in the solicitation and added our perpective in italics.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Problem Statement
- Proposed Solution
- Required Capabilities
- Additional Considerations
- Submission Guidance
- Awarding Instrument
- Follow-on Production
- Our Perspective
- Our Background
- Hyper Mobility
- Our Intention
- Outcome Based Adaptive Engineering
- Project Scope
- The Competition
- Concept Design
The Department of Defense replenishment rates for unmanned aerial delivery vehicles are neither capable of meeting surge demand nor achieving affordable mass. The current design and manufacture of airborne medium range precision delivery vehicles is complex, costly, and limited by historically slower production rates due to exquisite components and labor-intensive manufacturing processes. Narrow supply chains, proprietary data, and locked designs result in a lengthy timeline to transition new technology into usable capability and limit production and replenishment rates.
While not specified in the original solicitation, it can be assumed that surge demand will present itself either as the need for larger quantities of UAVs beyond what is currently available, and as the need for each UAV to perform a larger volume of tasks within a given time period both reliably and accurately. In addition, affordability and energy efficiency must be emphasized in order to achieve the above mentioned “affordable mass”. All this points towards the need for a simple but effective design that is versatile enough to succeed in its intended use case and adapt to new use cases without significant disruptions from any change in manufacturing or logistical capabilities.
The Department of Defense seeks solutions to develop, demonstrate, and fly a modular open architecture vehicle that will accelerate capability development and fielding across all weapons programs by enabling the integration, testing, and qualification of different subsystems, capabilities, and materials. The objective is to demonstrate an aerial platform that prioritizes affordability and distributed mass production.
Our approach to this solution will consist of simple and modular designs that will allow for faster iterative changes without necessarily having to “revisit the drawing board” every time a new capability or subsystem needs to be integrated.
- Capable of demonstrating an initial flight test no later than 7 months after agreement award. Extensive project management experience will be utilized in order to ensure that progress towards an initial test flight can meet this deadline.
- Range of at least 500 nautical miles. Our approach will attempt to achieve a range of 1000 nautical miles, which will allow for a “Factor of Safety” of double the required range.
- Capable of delivering a kinetic payload. The emphasis on modularity and adaptability will allow for the UAV to quickly switch from a cargo carrying variant to a kinetic payload variant regardless of location and without the need for special training or tools.
- Minimum cruise speed of 100 knots. This equates to about 115mph, which when combined with the desired range equates to a flight time of at least 4.35 hours. However, due to the stated goal of reaching up to double the requested range, the flight time at cruising speed will likely be closer to 9 hours. Also, due to the emphasis on efficiency and affordability, the max speed will probably be limited to 460 mph at the most in order to minimize the effects of drag induced by flying any faster. This negates the possibility of using a hybrid or fully electric method of propulsion, since they would likely be prohibitively expensive and would not provide the desired performance with current technology.
- System architecture that allows for timely integration of commercially available components and subsystems (e.g., modular payloads, sensors, software-defined radios). While modularity to quickly integrate any new systems will be emphasized, special attention will also be given to common off the shelf systems as specified throughout the course of development.
- Able to demonstrate an air delivered variant (e.g., gravity dropped / launched from back of a cargo aircraft). Due to the inherent size that is required for the UAV to achieve its performance goals, it will probably be limited to being “airdropped” out the back of a cargo aircraft.
- Capable of bulk transportation and employment in large quantities. The extent of the UAVs bulk transport capability will likely be determined by the size and weight restrictions that come with being airdropped from a cargo aircraft. As an interesting thought experiment, the ability to carry a person (along with any gear or accessories they may have) would likely require a cargo capacity of 500lbs, which then becomes 1000l bs with a Factor of Safety of 2.
Vendors will be expected to discuss trade space, component selection, and design choices through the lens of price and with the aim of minimizing future production bottlenecks. Multiple vehicle types may be selected for prototyping and multiple variants may be developed following a successful initial flight test. Designs that enable geographically distributed, scalable manufacturing with minimal reliance on specialized tooling and test equipment are preferred. Any follow-on production may include considerations regarding international partner manufacturing constraints.
As mentioned previously, at least 2 variants are envisioned, for cargo carrying and for kinetic payload delivery. Transitioning the UAV between these 2 variants will likely consist of swapping out modules or pods (dedicated to either cargo or weapons) from dedicated mounting areas around the fuselage and wings.
The DoD is not interested in partial solutions to this problem statement, and teams are encouraged to present their own teaming arrangements in their proposals. Solution briefs should identify where the submitter will employ teaming arrangements and, if so, which companies will deliver which capabilities.
While specific teaming arrangements have not yet been made at the time of writing, it is expected that the contracting ecosystem within mHub Chicago with expert advice from the DoD organization MxD, will be sufficient in order to successfully complete all development phases of this project. These phases will include initial hardware design, development and integration of flight control and other electronic systems, component fabrication and prototype assembly, and prototype testing.
- Solution brief content may demonstrate how the proposed solution, technology, or dataset addresses the problem statement and desired product capabilities included within this solicitation; generic descriptions of technology platforms are unnecessary.
- Solution brief should convey any previous successes and strategy for production scalability.
- Companies may submit multiple designs and proposals.
Vendors selected for Phase 2 will receive an amplification letter with expanded details to help inform their Phase 2 pitches. Those vendors will be expected to provide their Rough Order of Magnitude breakdown to arrive at their proposed design performance and manufacturability tradeoffs.
It is DIU’s intent that companies selected for Phase 2 should expect to deliver a virtual or in-person pitch as early as the week of 23-27 October 2023, however, evaluations may shift scheduling of Phase 2 Pitch invites. The company’s Phase 2 pitch shall address the Phase 2 evaluation factors contained in CSO HQ0845-20-S-C001.
DoD requires companies without a CAGE code to register in SAM (https://sam.gov/SAM/) if selected for agreement award. The Government recommends that prospective companies begin this process as early as possible.
This solicitation is open to U.S. and international vendors.
This Area of Interest solicitation will be awarded in accordance with the Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) process detailed withinCSO HQ0845-20-S-C001.
Companies are advised that any prototype Other Transaction (OT) agreement awarded in response to this Area of Interest may result in the award of a follow-on production agreement without the use of further competitive procedures. Any prototype OT will include the following statement relative to the potential for follow-on production: “In accordance with 10 U.S.C. § 4022(f), and upon a determination that the prototype project, or portions thereof, for this transaction has been successfully completed, this competitively awarded prototype OT agreement may result in the award of a follow-on production OT agreement without the use of competitive procedures.”
Following through with our provisioning in the e-mobility space – micro mobility and macro mobility for land-based vehicles, hyper mobility will aspire to build out a comprehensive ecosystem for flying vehicles that would not only include the design and construction of the Enterprise Test Vehicle but also add smart sensors and navigation capabilities by including high-speed quaternion math-based matrix transformations to govern the motion of the vehicles in air.
The Enterprise Test Vehicle will be constructed using Additive Manufacturing technologies, composite material structures, generative design to optimize on the weight and high strength capabilities, and robust sensors for smart monitoring. We will utilize technologies from our partner ecosystem using what we term Linked Solutioning – an intense collaboration with our peers to ideate, iterate and expand on solutioning for the project. Some of the partnerships are already established and others will be inked in the course of DIU and us defining the full scope of the project.
For this project, we will utilize our background and expertise in the aerospace and automotive domains wherein we have helped with research, high tech engineering, product development, manufacturing and aftermarket activities. We have also helped in engineering simulations for aircrafts, the shuttle program, vehicle design and engineering, digital transformations for more than three decades. More recently we have been involved in smart manufacturing, transforming manufacturing to Industry 4.0 by instituting brownfield and greenfield initiatives, and working on our own blue sky disruptive technologies in additive manufacturing.
Hyper mobility entails the development of drones, air taxis and future air transportation utilizing e-VTOLs along with the infrastructure to support them and the adjacent services that will be needed to provide for and utilize them. This will be based on our theme – Everything Connected!
OUTCOME BASED ADAPTIVE ENGINEERING (OBAE)
OBAE approaches engineering from a parametric modeling underpinning to taking an approach of understanding the end result and incorporating it in the elements of design. It combines parametric modeling, generative design, additive manufacturing and actionable intelligence. It is the prime basis for Numorpho Cybernetic Systems (NUMO) smart products and services play and the core of our Mantra M5 (Make+Manage+Move+Market+Maintain) platform for process automation.
|General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle||(25 hrs)||Max = 192 mph||56 ft||28 ft|
|AAI Corp RQ-7B||68 mi (6-9 hrs)||Max = 130 mph||14 ft||11 ft 2 in|
|AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven||6.2 mi (1-1.5 hrs)||Cruising = 18.64||4.5 ft||3 ft|
|AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma||9.3 mi (2 hrs)||Max = 52 mph||9 ft 2 in||4 ft 7 in|
|Kaman K-MAX||350 mi||Max = 120 mph||92 ft 8 in||52 ft|
|Boeing MQ-27||(20+ hrs)||Cruising = 69 mph||10 ft 2 in||5 ft 7 in|
|Boeing Insitu RQ-21A Blackjack||58 mi (16 hrs)||Cruising = 63 mph||16 ft||8.2 ft|
|Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout||126.6 mi (5-8 hrs)||132 mph||27ft 6 in||23 ft 11.4 in|
|General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper||1,200 mi (27 hrs)||Cruising = 194 mph||65 ft 7 in||36 ft 1 in|
|Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton||9,400 mi (30 hrs)||Max = 357 mph||130 ft 11 in||47 ft 7 in|
|Northrop Grumman RQ-4B Global Hawk||14,200 mi (34+ hrs)||Cruising = 357 mph||130.9 ft||47 ft 7 in|
|Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel||(5-6 hrs)||??||38 ft 7 in||14 ft 9 in|
Here is our manifesto for the Enterprise Test Vehicle
- A modular drone that can be easily modified into multiple variants for either transporting cargo or delivering kinetic payloads on a target. The modular design will also be flexible enough to take on new roles and integrate new components and systems as the need arises.
- The transition between cargo carrying and payload delivering variant will be accomplished by swapping out pods that can be mounted either in/under the fuselage, or under the wings.
- The drone will be easy and cheap to produce in large quantities on short notice.
- The design will be thoroughly tested in order to ensure a high level of performance, reliability, and energy efficiency.
- The design will utilize components that are either cheap to make or off the shelf and will be easy to assemble without special tools or training.
- The design will have a heavy emphasis on components that can be 3d printed using commonly available desktop 3d printers.
- The design will utilize a electric prop driven in order to achieve a 1000 nautical mile range, with cruising and max speeds within the range of 115-460 mph. Specifics of the propulsion system will be determined during the design phase of the project.
- The design will allow the drone to be launched or “airdropped” from a cargo aircraft during flight.
- The timeline for development will allow the drone to begin testing within 7 months, and the contracting ecosystem within mHub and consulting with aerospace partner companies at MxD will be used for effective delegation of the workload.
NI+IN UCHIL Founder, CEO & Technical Evangelist
Anthony J Anton, Engineering Contractor
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