VTOL or Vertical Takeoff and Landing Drones are in high demand for reconnaissance work. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a solicitation looking for a small business that can provide a hybrid unmanned aerial system—or drone—with a fixed-wing setup that is still capable of vertical take-offs and landings. The federal agency is a part of the United States department of commerce and is in charge of monitoring the environment.
Scientists at NOAA who study the skies and the oceans need a specific new drone, the FireFLY6 PRO, that can take off and land on a single spot while still achieving high speeds in flight. Accordingly the NOAA requirement solicitation states:
“For this mission we are interested the greater horizontal speed—about 15 m/s—and endurance—50-plus minutes—offered by a fixed-wing UAS relative to rotary-wing UAS, while also maintaining the capacity for vertical take-offs and landings. VTOL is vital to protect the aircraft and the high-resolution sensor payload during landings in the challenging field environments where we will be operating.”
The drone will be outfitted with an array of sensitive cameras to help it capture aerial imagery along the California coast.
The statement of need goes on to state that the NOAA is specifically looking for two FireFLY6 Pro drones with Sony A7R cameras “installed in custom vibration isolating mounts” with quick-release connectors. The total package should be comprise everything else needed to operate the drones, including a ground control computer and software, a long-range video link antenna and a training class for pilots to be held in San Diego.
After having awarded the contract to a suitable company, the NOAA expects to receive the first drone and set of equipment by Aug. 31. Two option periods have been included in the said contract—beginning March 2, 2020, and March 2, 2021—during these the NOAA officials can opt to purchase additional setups, for a total of three packages over three years.
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