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FARNBOROUGH: Tekever to fly autonomous UAV at show

Portuguese unmanned air vehicle (UAV) company Tekever will fly Farnborough's first autonomous flight display using the AR4 Light Ray. Although the tactical UAV was unveiled in 2011, the aircraft's official market launch will be at the air show.

Alhough UAVs have been displayed regularly, notably the Schiebel S-100 camcopter at the 2011 Paris air show, Tekever says this marks the major air show debut of an autonomous display in which the aircraft will fly a pre-programmed display without interference or positive control from a human operator.

Tekever will also have a scale model of the AR5 Life Ray, a larger UAV built for maritime missions, on static display (H2/C6).

"We decided to propose the flying display of the AR4 Light Ray because, although UAVs have been around for a long time, and are regulars at air shows static displays, most people do not have the opportunity to see one actually flying," says Tekever administrator Ricardo Mendes.

The display will include the unpacking and assembly of the Light Ray immediately before the flight, and the disassembly following that. The UAV is meant to be carried in a backpack by tactical forces.

"During the past months, Tekever has been interacting with several military and civilian organizations from several different countries that have expressed their belief the AR4 is a perfect fit for their operational requirements," says Mendes.

"We're quite advanced on some of these processes, but it is still premature to disclose further details," he adds.

Autonomy is increasingly desired in UAVs as they become increasingly common in tactical situations. The ability to cover a certain spot, route or target without positive control is a desired asset.

Pending a suitable communications setup, Tekever plans to transmit the video feed from the flight to the show and over the Internet.

"The AR4-related business development effort is indeed blooming now and Tekever hopes that Farnborough will be a great venue to maintain this effort's pace and attain successful undertakings," says Mendes.

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