U.T.SEC 2018: Interview with Karsten Schudt – “UAS will change our lives fundamentally – including in the security field”

The second edition of U.T.SEC – Unmanned Technologies & Security Expo & Conference will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, 7-8 March 2018, at the Exhibition Centre Nuremberg, in parallel with Enforce Tac, the special exhibition for police equipment. The entire focus of this still quite new trade fair is on drones and unmanned systems, how they can be used to improve security, and also how to defend against these technologies in structures that are relevant from a security perspective. The patron for the event is Franz Josef Pschierer, Under-Secretary at the Bavarian State Ministry for Economic Affairs and Media, Energy and Technology.

The use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) will increase greatly in the next few years, including – and in particular – in the security field. In the lead-up to U.T.SEC, we spoke with an expert in this area: Karsten Schudt has been Managing Partner of 3W-International GmbH since 2009. The Hesse-based company is a world leader in the supply of two-stroke combustion engines for unmanned aerial systems. The global activities of 3W-International have given Schudt extensive knowledge of international UAS applications.

Your work has given you a broad overview of international developments in the area of UAS technology. What general trends do you perceive?

Karsten Schudt (KS): The industry is currently undergoing a major transition. We assume that more systems are now being used for civilian than for military applications. This is placing new demands on unmanned aerial systems. The use of UAS swarms, hybrid drive technologies, self-determining flight systems, even smarter camera and sensor packages and increased performance at lower and lower costs are just a few of the changes that are happening right now. It is safe to say that UAS will change our lives fundamentally, including in the security field.

The focus on the efficient use of UAS seems to be constantly increasing. What technical developments can we expect in this area?

KS: Previously, efforts focused on developing flight-capable systems. The drivers at that time were military applications. But with the growth in civilian applications, the focus has switched to questions of economic and efficient use. Systems that don’t fly don’t earn money. This focus on efficiency has now also reached the military sphere. In other words, we have to be efficient in every area of application now: the market demands greater and greater ranges, higher payloads and longer flying times, with the same or lower energy consumption.

What effect will these developments have on the use of these devices in the area of security?

KS: The costs for using UAS will fall, regardless of how they are powered. UAS will also be used for an increasingly wide range of applications. The lower costs and greater flexibility will of course also play a part in how they are used in the area of police activities. Small systems with powerful cameras don’t cost a fortune, so they are a manageable investment for police and private security services. That also applies to larger systems fitted with combustion engines, for example. A helicopter of this type can be used for border protection on the one hand, but on the other it can also be used to search for boat people in the Mediterranean or to monitor shipping in the English Channel. The same goes for transportation tasks. Whereas in the past it was only possible to transport small quantities of medications or stored blood, now it is possible to transport full weeks’ worth of rations to oil rigs far out in the North Sea, for example, for just a fraction of the usual cost.

Must we assume that UAS will redefine security tasks?

KS: Yes. We increasingly see in the press that UAS used in leisure time are violating security-relevant zones. We need to invest more in user education in this area. There are also threats that were previously unknown, such as industrial espionage or terror attacks using unmanned systems. The result will be substantial growth in drone defence. But some quite new opportunities are also arising. The combination of high-resolution camera, face recognition software and drone will offer new possibilities in combating crime.

The wider public still often has a sceptical view of the use of UAS. To what extent could UAS provide decisive support in humanitarian activities, for example?

KS: UAS are extremely flexible and can be rapidly deployed. For humanitarian uses, in particular, speed is of the essence. Consider maritime rescue and compare the use of a traditional helicopter against a hybrid VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) unit. In terms of camera systems, both vehicles are just as high-performance. But when it comes to costs, the unmanned system beats the helicopter. That applies to acquisition, maintenance and actual use. In addition, the only limitation on flying time is fuel consumption, since there are no regulations governing pilot flying hours to consider. The autopilot system enables overflights of large areas to be performed automatically. The VTOL function means that a system like this can be used anywhere, just like a helicopter, since no large-scale infrastructure is required. The advantages are obvious.

What tasks can UAS assume besides these to improve their image?

KS: Essentially, if tasks have to be performed quickly and at low cost over large areas, UAS always have the advantage. For example, in the fight against poaching in Africa or the transportation of medications to remote areas of Papua New Guinea, or following a major earthquake, where the entire infrastructure has collapsed.

This is the second time that you are participating in U.T.SEC as a speaker. How relevant do you find this exhibition for questions of using UAS in security activities?

KS: The fast-moving nature of this sector means we need continuous, rigorous discussion about deployment opportunities, technical developments, and also risks. The first edition of U.T.SEC in 2017 showed that it provides the right framework for security applications relating to unmanned systems. The quality of the discussions was very high. It is important to have an event like this, to facilitate discussion between all the players.

Security exhibitions at NürnbergMesse

NürnbergMesse has proven expertise in the security field. With events such as Enforce Tac – trade fair for law enforcement, it-sa, it-sa Brasil and it-sa India – trade fairs for IT Security, FeuerTRUTZ – trade fair for preventive fire protection as well as Perimeter Protection – trade fair for perimeter protection, FIRE & SECURITY INDIA EXPO and U.T.SEC – Unmanned Technologies & Security, it brings together a total of around 1,200 exhibitors and over 30,000 visitors from all over the world.

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3W-International Details Heavy Fuel Engines

The German engine manufacturer 3W-International is offering heavy fuel (HF) engines that can be used for helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. Here the spectrum of two-stroke HF engines ranges from a one-cylinder engine with 3hp up to a four-cylinder engine with over 60hp. An HF-driven Wankel engine was introduced in 2017. See story here.

3W-International delivered the first HF-engines in 2009. Since then, thousands of HF engines were sold worldwide. “Principal customers are military and safety-relevant applications,” Karsten Schudt, Managing Director of 3W-international, explains.

HF-based internal combustion engines can demonstrate their strength during missions for humanitarian purposes in disaster areas according to the Managing Director. Most unmanned aerial systems (UAS) equipped with 3W-International engines are unarmed and deployed for reconnaissance and surveying tasks. These reconnaissance UAS also come into use during disaster and humanitarian deployments to provide a quick overview of the crisis region. UAS with heavy fuel drives can play a decisive role during these deployments, as their structure and technical specifications are specifically designed. Fuel used on 3W-International HF engines are JET A-I, JP-5, JP-8 and a 2-stroke mixture of 2% Aspen oil and 0.1% diesel valve cleaner.

Mr. Schudt explains that transport of foodstuff and medications for first aid in crisis areas is possible only to a limited extent due to the degree of destruction. Helicopters generally assume the main task. Here UAS play an important role here even though their transport capacities are much smaller. “UAS can be quickly relocated to a crisis region, meaning that reconnaissance tasks can be undertaken early on,” he says. “You’re more independent since only one pilot is need, who doesn’t necessarily need to be on site. The limited use of autopilots is also feasible. The necessary on-site infrastructure is minimal, and so are the deployment costs. Furthermore, HF-driven UASs are also fuel-independent.

One assumes that military and rescue and aid organisations active in crisis regions would have sufficient diesel and gasoline available on site. Two-stroke HF engines can be driven with available gasoline since they operate with a two-stroke mixture of gasoline, 2% Aspen oil, and 0.1% diesel valve cleaner. Kerosene, which is used for helicopters, can likewise be used. “Our 2-stroke HF engines can thus be very flexibly deployed,” Mr. Schudt tells MONS. “The engine doesn’t need to be purged when switching between fuel types, which extremely simplifies the deployment. Performance declines briefly at the moment when fuels are switched, but then quickly re-establishes itself at the same high level.”

The performance engines from Germany are used in both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. “HF technology yields quite clear benefits for these UASs’ operators,” the industry expert concludes. “The engines are very flexible and reliable, and they diminish the costs of deployments. Simpler deployment planning is also possible thanks to the fuel independence. On-site logistics is likewise less costly. These cost savings, especially on the part of the employees needed to operate the UAS, are of interest for our customers.”

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3W-International GmbH offers Technical Customer Services

The new customer service of the German engine manufacturer is called 3W Engineering Services. This will not only be offered to existing and new 3W customers, but also to third-party customers and includes various service, test and measurement activities relating to engines and drive units and their further development.

Since the increased demand for complete drive units the requests to 3W-International GmbH for individual services has also increased. In the months following the Xponential Show in New Orleans in 2016, many customers have enquired about individual services. “As a result, we have decided to offer these individual services internationally to our customers as an additional product from our company”, explained Karsten Schudt, Managing Partner of 3W-International GmbH.

3W Engineering Services offers its customers a comprehensive service catalogue all around the development of individual drive concepts, the optimization of existing drive trains as well as the integration of drive systems in the UAS industry. Thereby the customers can rely on the more than 35 years of experience that the 3W-International GmbH experts have gained in the development of engines and their auxiliary systems.

One of the focal points is the design of individual drive solutions, including the subsystems, based on the customer specifications and the performance characteristics to be achieved. In the process, the 3W-International GmbH specialists not only undertake the hardware and software development, but also the development of the electronics including their manufacture. The prototype assembly together with the engine tests as well as the start of series production are likewise undertaken as the next steps.

In addition, the Hessian family business offers various engine tests for 3W and third-party engines on its test benches. These include not only the general performance measurements of combustion engines but also the thrust and power measurements, exhaust emissions analysis, engine indexing, endurance testing, blower, water and oil-pump analysis, purge image analysis, cylinder head measurement and load change calculation. EMC measurements and climate and temperature tests are likewise possible. The test benches of 3W-Internatinal GmbH can also be hired by customers on a daily basis.

Finally, 3W-International GmbH offers consultation during the integration of combustion engines into unmanned aerial systems. This, however, requires certain framework conditions. 3W-International has to be part of the project team, on the basis of signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Preparation of a requirement specification for project coordination and definition of the requirements with dedicated tasks is a must, too. Beside this, an early know-how- and consultancy-transfer regarding the integration of propulsion technology and individual components is needed.

Information about the 3W-Engineering Service will be presented by 3W-International on Stand 3131 at the Xponential Show 2017 in Dallas.

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