Airbus Defence and Space

DeckFinder

Landing System for Helicopters & VTOL UAVs

Precise positioning for challenging relative navigation tasks

DeckFinder is a radio-based local positioning system for GNSS-independent, precise near-field navigation with an accuracy significantely exceeding the performance of Global Navigation Satellite Systems. DeckFinder is designed to enable fully automatic take-off and landing for helicopters and VTOL UAVs as well as a broad spectrum of advanced navigation applications.

Transferring the principles of Global Navigation Satellite Systems to a local scale, DeckFinder consists of six "Ground-Satellites" & the corresponding airborne receiver components.

Each Ground-Satellite emits a proprietary radio signal, which enables the airborne receiver in a UAV or Helicopter to determine the 3-dimensional relative or absolute position to the ground.

DeckFinder is designed to maximum flexibility and can be used both for any manned and unmanned aerial vehicle as well as other moving objects as local navigation means.

DeckFinder has been validated in various flight campaigns under harsh operational & environmental conditions - proving an outstanding overall system performance.

System Components

One DeckFinder Ground Station Unit on board a coast-guard ship

One DeckFinder Ground Station Unit on board a coast-guard ship

The DeckFinder Ground Segment consists of 6 fully military ruggedized Ground Station Units, which can be rapidly deployed or permanently installed in an local area as for example around a existing Helicopter Landing Deck.

The Ground Station Units have an wide-area power supply and can be both line- or battery powered and are designed to meet the requirements of MIL-STD 810G, MIL-STD 1310G, MIL-STD 461E.

The Airborne Segment of the DeckFinder Local Positioning System consists of 2 downward oriented airborne antennas, a lightweight airborne receiver and an airborne computer.

The overall weight of the airborne segment can be reduced to less than 1.2kg. Due to the flexible design, all components can be easily installed into any moving object. The airborne segment has standardized interfaces and can easily be connected to existing avionic systems, providing high-accuracy positioning information during take-off, approach & landing.

DeckFinder Airborne Receiver installed on board of a VTOL UAV

DeckFinder Airborne Receiver installed on board of a VTOL UAV

Performance

DeckFinder is a local positioning system which significantly exceeds the accuracy & reliability of Global Navigation Satellite Systems in a local scale.

With 25cm accuracy, DeckFinder enables to safely & reliable position a Helicopter or VTOL UAV above the landing deck of a moving ship or truck - serving as sensor input for flight guidance & autopilots to enable fully automatic take-off and landing.

The System Data Interface is designed to be easily connectable to the majority of available autopilot systems and could easily be adapted based on concrete customer requirements.

UAV final approach to the landing spot - DeckFinder accuracy during final approach & touch-down

UAV final approach to the landing spot - DeckFinder accuracy during final approach & touch-down

Applications Spectrum

DeckFinder enables highly precise relative positioning between two moving objects.
Designed for the operational needs of automated UAV and Helicopter operations, DeckFinder enables fully automatic take-off and landing on fixed and moving ground, such as ships or trucks.

As generic positioning system and fully redudant back-up to Global Navigation Satellite Systems, the range of potential applications also includes:

  • Helicopter Landing Assistant during brown-out / white-out
  • 'Viritual Helideck': Automatic / assistated helicopter hovering relative to moving ground for cargo dropping or in-air refuelling tasks
  • Automatic Surface Vehicle Recovery
  • Oil / Gas Industry relative asset positioning for e.g. crane control during ship loading / unloading
  • Navigation in GNSS shaded environments (valleys, urban canyons)
  • Navigation in GNSS-denied environments (presence of GNSS jammers / spoofers)
  • ...applications whereever high-accuracy relative positioning information is required

DeckFinder UAV Test Campaign Artic Environment, Norway 2011

DeckFinder UAV Test Campaign Artic Environment, Norway 2011

 

Key Features

  • Provision of relative, 3-dimensional position & attitude information
  • Accuracy better than 25cm during final approach, landing & take-off
  • Scalable operating range, up to a distance of 1.1km
  • Update rate of >10Hz to handle highly dynamic situations as landing on ships at high sea-states
  • Visualization of the relative position on board of the helicopter or for a UAV Ground Operator
  • No need for dedicated communication links
  • Standardized interfaces
  • Lightweight & fully ruggedized system components
  • Rapid deployable Ground Stations, line and /or battery powered
  • Independent from Global Navigation Satellite Systems
  • In line with all relevant military standards



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DeckFinder Flyer

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