An AeroVironment Puma All-Environment small unmanned aircraft system is launched from Coast Guard Cutter Chock as part of the Research and Development Center’s Robotic Aircraft for Maritime Public Safety (RAMPS) project. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Luke Clayton.
The Acquisitions Directorate reports that the Coast Guard is at least looking at small UAS (UAVs for us traditionalists).
“The demonstrations are part of the RDC’s Robotic Aircraft for Maritime Public Safety project, which aims to determine the risks, benefits and limitations of operating commercial off-the-shelf sUAS technology in conjunction with Coast Guard cutters other than the national security cutter.”
Tests of seven systems were conducted on USCGC Chock (WYTL 65602), a 65 foot tug, so you know the systems had to be small. In fact, I have radio controlled airplanes bigger than these. Still, hopefully these are smarter.
An interesting aspect of the trials is that it included test specifically intended to determine if the sUAS would be useful in finding a person in the water. To do this they used a dummy with an enhanced IR signature comparable to that of a person they refer to as a “thermal Oscar.”
While UAVs of this size may have uses, ultimately, I think they will find that the system we need will be something with a radar that will fit on a Webber class, that means something similar to Scan Eagle. Smaller vessels don’t actually need their own UAS, they can be supported by UAS from ashore. Perhaps every SAR station should be able to launch their own UAS to get to scene before the boat arrives. That would require SAR stations to coordinate with Air Traffic Control. USCGC Chock’s sistership, 65 foot tug, USCGC Swivel, by Windwork50