The 60th Air Mobility Wing, 60th Security Forces Squadron, in collaboration with Easy Aerial, a commercial provider of autonomous drone-based surveillance solutions, developed and deployed the first automated drone-based surveillance and perimeter security system for a U.S. Air Force (USAF) Installation.
The free-flight drone-in-a-box solution of the Smart Air Force Monitoring System (SAFMS) was developed together with a connected (SAFMS-T) version by Easy Aerial and the USAF in just two years. The work was carried out as part of a Phase II program of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and corresponds to the operational requirements of perimeter security and situational awareness of the air force base.
After a long process, the program has entered an IOC (Initial Operational Capability) phase, during which the systems were approved for flight by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and started operating at Travis AFB. The systems provide autonomous scheduled and on-demand flights that carry the real-time HD and thermal data necessary to protect aviators and assets from threats from the air, ground and possibly water in all environments.
“Easy Aerial’s unmanned aerial systems are a cornerstone,” said MSgt Joshua Hicks, instructor for Travis AFB’s sixth SFS Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS). “This jointly developed technology offers our planes and critical goods unparalleled security. You will potentially save lives and time, effort and resources as we continue to expand our training and operations across the base. “
SAFMS and SAFMS-T have been configured so that Travis AFB has options for an instant eye in the sky that can be deployed in seconds. After receiving a security trigger such as a fence alarm, a fire alarm or other emergency calls, the SAFMS can be programmed to automatically and autonomously navigate to the location of the trigger from its base station, thus offering unprecedented situational awareness. After completing the mission, the drone returns to the protection base station autonomously and lands there. There it is charged and waits for the next planned patrol or security-controlled mission.
SAFMS and SAFMS-T systems consist of three main components:
Easy Guard: A mobile, durable and weatherproof self-sufficient base station that fully charges the SAFMS drone in just 35 minutes using an internal battery. Any power source, including solar, can charge the battery. SAFMS-T has an intelligent tether line that maintains the voltage, provides the drone with constant power and bidirectional communication and allows unlimited flight time. To ensure precise, reliable and long-term operation, the base station has GPS. the option of cellular, radio or satellite communications; Wind and temperature sensors; as well as internal and external cameras. Each SAFMS drone can take off and land at different base stations, which enables constant monitoring while charging at multiple locations.
Falcon: An autonomous high-performance drone with a modular payload system. A robust and lightweight carbon fiber airframe allows various gimbal payloads, including optical and IR cameras, floodlights or speakers, to be carried for longer flight times of up to 45 minutes. Falcon’s all-weather capability allows it to fly in fog, rain, snow, and high winds without affecting its mission.
ERMS: Easy Remote Monitoring System – A secure communications and fleet operations platform that enables automated missions from a command center anywhere in the world. ERMS offers advanced mission planning with manual control correction, flight telemetry, intelligent geofencing, camera control and real-time video feeds for constant 360 degree situational awareness.
“The opportunity to work with the USAF and UAS Working Group at Travis AFB has been a tremendous honor and privilege,” said Ivan Stamatovski, CTO of Easy Aerial. “I was humbled by the collective expertise, insight and vision of this highly dedicated team, without which none of this would have been possible.”
“This was a collaborative effort as we worked closely together from start to finish, resulting in a bespoke solution for the USAF that meets all of their operational wants and needs while providing operational security for the aviators and assets. Their attention to detail and the identification of the operational capabilities that needed to be changed and implemented was amazing, ”said Stamatovski.
After the use of SAFMS and SAFMS-T for basic security at Travis AFB has already achieved measurable benefits, several Air Mobility Command units and the Air Force Security Forces Center are investigating additional applications, including inspection of critical infrastructure and aircraft, fire fighting, protection of assets and event monitoring and surveillance.