A vision-based guidance system is to be test-flown aboard Budapest-based Hi Aero Kft's developmental Hi-View unmanned air vehicle at Gödöllö civilian airport, north-east of Budapest, early this year.

The company is developing a combined navigation and surveillance suite, based on automatic optical recognition, which could eventually weigh less than 2kg (4.4lb). The trials aim to demonstrate an initial navigation capability with a predefined flightpath, and validate the autonomy of the suite. It fuses imagery from a low-light digital camera and infrared imagers in real time. The dual sensor approach is intended to optimise the system for operations in extremely low light or obscured climatic conditions such as fog, smoke or dust.

The suite's processing algorithms incorporate recognition and intelligent evaluation functions. Hi-View has a 3.4m (11.1ft) wingspan and a length of 1.6m. It is capable of flying at speeds of up to 75kt (140km/h), with an endurance of up to 6h. Maximum take-off weight is 11kg.

A commercial version of the complete system, comprising the suite and Hi-View, is being planned for the civil marketplace, says Hi Aero managing director Richard Glover. The Hi-View is being developed to have a strengthened fuselage and wing to support larger payloads. This year's flight trials will also aid a move from a gasoline engine to an electric power source.

The trial is part of the Project Autonomous Aerial Reconnaissance and Navigation, in co-operation with Hungary's Academy of Sciences. The project, initiated in 2005, saw a series of multiple data gathering flights for a basic system aboard a Hi-View testbed vehicle between April and mid-October that year.

Source: Flight International