Insitu will incorporate Persistent Systems’ Wave Relay mobile ad hoc network (MANET)
technology into its line of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including the ScanEagle, ScanEagle2,
ScanEagle3, Integrator, and RQ-21A Blackjack.
Persistent Systems has entered into several five-year agreements with UAV manufacturers,
including Martin UAV and Raytheon, Louis Sutherland, vice-president of business development for
Persistent Systems, told Jane’s .
What makes each agreement unique is that Persistent Systems must take a different approach for
integrating its MPU5 radio not just into the different company UAVs, but the different product lines
within each company, Sutherland noted.
“When we integrate [the MPU5] we try to do it in a way that makes it the most optimal for their
platform, but frankly there is a unique discussion for each platform because some companies have
more than one,” he said.
In the case of Insitu, initially the MPU5 embedded board will be offered on Scan Eagle and Scan
For the Scan Eagle integration effort Persistent Systems relied on a government-developed wing
trade study specific to the UAV.
The government developed and designed its own test platform, so it could do all the testing of
Persistent System’s tracking antenna, Sutherland said.
“[They want] to use that MIMO [multiple-input multiple-output] tracker and really see what kind of
range you could get with MIMO,” he added.
The government released the intellectual property for Insitu and Persistent Systems to use it,
Sutherland explained. “It makes sense for them to do that; it has no purpose for the government
outside of an MPU5 integration in a ScanEagle.”
As Persistent Systems continues to form partnerships with other UAV manufacturers, Sutherland
said each of those efforts will present a challenge because the radio gets installed differently on
Additionally, the data communication path could be affected by antenna placement, which is also
specific to each aircraft. Persistent Systems spends most of its time during integration work,
“They [UAVs] may only have so much real estate to place antennas; they may only be able to put
it in certain places,” he said.
Persistent Systems, for example, might want to install its MIMO antenna in a specific location on
the UAV, but the air vehicle company might say it cannot be done because it might impact the
UAV’s performance. Sutherland said the companies have a back and forth dialogue until they
determine the best approach.
“Technically our radio is a 3×3 MIMO, so ideally we would want to have three antennas or at least
one antenna be dual-polarised. So theoretically you would have two antenna inputs: a horizontal
and vertical input,” Sutherland said.
However, at 35.56 cm in height, the dual-polarised antenna could be too big for some smaller
“It has a lot of drag for a small [UAV]. Some larger Group 3 [UAVs] could certainly use that and
have some tremendous benefit from it,” he said. “We do everything we can to optimise it. In some
cases, the [UAVs] are too small so we can't do anything about it; but we push things to the (boundaries) to what is possible on the engineering side."
Persistent Systems’ MPU5 embedded board has been integrated on at least three of the four UAV
manufacturers competing for the Group 2-3 US Army Future Tactical Unmanned Aerial System
effort. Sutherland said Persistent Systems’ goal is to achieve the same level of integration on
UAVs that the company has done with the robotics community. The MPU5 is integrated onto
unmanned ground vehicles built by Endeavor Robotics.
Read more: ihsmarkit.com/janes
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