By Paolo Valpolini
It was not the star of the Aeraccess stand, at SOFINS, the Special Operations Forces Innovation Network Seminar, organised by the Cèrcle de l’Arbalète at Camp de Souges, north of Bordeaux, as it is still at prototype stage, but is might well become the star of the Bretigny-based company stand in one of the incoming exhibitions. The Falconet is a new nano-UAV, it weighs 200 grams with batteries, which might bring a new level of situational awareness to the individual soldier.
According to the company one of the key elements of the new UAV, as well as of the other systems developed by the company among which we find the NanoHawk, specialised for indoor missions, is the autopilot. Aeracess is a spin-off of the CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, the French national space studies centre), the autopilot having been designed for rockets, hence it has an unrivalled stability on the Z axis, according to company specialists, which allows it to perform extremely well in high wind and heavy rain conditions.
The Falconet, a quadcopter which size is 110 x 110 mm, can fly in winds up to 65 km/h, its top speed being 85 km/h. The average flight time is 22 minutes, with a 2 km range from the operator thanks to its 2.4 GHz data link with AES 256 bit SSL RF encryption,, custom frequencies being available at request. The Falconet carries a dual payload, made of a high definition low light electro-optic sensor and an uncooled IR sensor with up to a 640×480 pixels matrix. The payload can be customised, the one proposed ensuring image stabilisation, while Aeraccess designed it in order to easily add upgraded functions such as GNSS-denied navigation and obstacle avoidance.
EDR On-Line understood that the intention of the company is to develop in due time a new nano-UAV capable to perform both outdoor and indoor operations, the critical issue being the transition from one scenario to the other, switching firmware to adapt to the new situation. This future evolution will exploit the lessons learned with the NanoHawk, and will certainly feature rotors protections and a navigation suite derived from that product.
Currently the Falconet is considered at TRL 6, being at prototype stage, the company aiming at launching it officially in Q4 2021, probably at Milipol in Paris, while the configuration should be frozen in early 2022, a production model being probably exhibited at Eurosatory 2022, COVID permitting.
Photos courtesy Aeraccess and P. Valpolini