In December, the project iMEDCAP, funded by the European Defence Fund, was kicked-off. With its user-driven, holistic approach, the flagship iMEDCAP sets out to revolutionize the emergency detection, identification, extraction, treatment, and evacuation of gravely injured and possibly contagious personnel in a completely autonomous way.
Funded by the European Defence Fund (EDF) and in collaboration with a robust consortium of esteemed European partners, AVILUS GmbH, is proud to announce the launch of the iMEDCAP project with its kick-off meeting held in Garching, Germany, on 13/14 December 2023. This innovative project, led by Technische Universität München as the Coordinator, brings together a diverse array of 24 organizations from 9 countries, uniting European expertise and resources to pioneer ground-breaking advancements in military healthcare and emergency response capabilities.
Over the last decade, significant progress has been made in the development of autonomous air and ground transport, detection technologies as well as (remote) medical interventions. These developments reveal both the potential and the necessity to modernize and adapt rescue systems to facilitate evacuation from complex and/or dangerous situations. Novel weapon technologies have led to several paradigm changes of the situation of ground forces, influencing the requirements for ad hoc medical support and transport logistics. In scenarios, decentral medical support will be needed in a potentially hostile environment, including CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear) threats. Current medical evacuation solutions are limited both in their available numbers and their usability in CBRN situations which contradicts the medical paradigm of the "golden hour" postulating immediate response to traumatic injury to guarantee the highest possible survival rates. A holistic and innovative approach is needed to enhance Europe’s preparedness.
In response to these needs, the user-driven concept of iMEDCAP sets out to design and develop a rescue system which facilitates the autonomous detection of injured personnel, the automatic definition of an evacuation and rescue strategy and an initial treatment in an interoperable patient box, equipped with diagnostic and intervention equipment, during transport under remote control. iMEDCAP brings together partners from the armed forces, universities, small and medium sized entities and industrial partners, sharing their expertise in their research fields and advancing their technologies and know-how towards a sophisticated solution. The final outcome of iMEDCAP will be the validation of the components and a roadmap for further development, laying the foundations for a modern and digital European rescue system.
While the iMEDCAP project is initiated in the defence sector, technical developments will reveal huge potential for intelligent solutions, facilitating autonomous rescue approaches not only limited to military scenarios, but also covering civil emergency scenarios like wildfire or nuclear incidents.
Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.
A few weeks ago, together with our partner Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co. KG (KNDS) as well as the Bundeswehr Medical Academy and the Medical Squadron Bischofswiesen, we had the chance to carry out a military medical exercise at WTD61, within the context of the RASEVAC philosophy.
The aims of this worldwide unique exercise were to test digital processes within the rescue chain and to review the integration of “Robotics and Autonomous Systems” (RAS), i.e., the integration of the UAV Grille and the UGV THeMIS into the Bundeswehr's medical system.
The scenario was divided into three phases: In the first section, the UGV THeMIS was used to evacuate the wounded from the “hot zone”, i.e., from the place of injury to the casualty collection point (CCP). In the second phase, care was provided by a Bravo first responder at the scene. The final and last resort was to adequately load the wounded soldier into the rescue cabin of the UAV Grille. Particular attention was paid to emergency medical preparation of the injured person for unaccompanied transport.
Also developed by AVILUS, the software plugins for the SitaWare Suite of Systematic provide support in all phases described. We enable seamless, digital connection of all command levels and rescue assets involved in the operation. From the platoon commander at the CCP who digitally drops off the 9-Liner up to the soldier in the PECC (Patient Evacuation Coordination Cell) who checks and approves the automatically generated waypoint plan for UAVs and UGVs. All reports, mission plans, approvals as well as deployment and patient monitoring are integrated into the battle management system.
We are developing not only the unprotected ground control segment (U-PECC) but together with our partner KNDS, also a protected version of our control room (P-PECC), which will be integrated into the BOXER. The vehicle offers space for the HMI for mission dispatch, control and monitoring and is fully integrated into the digital network via BMS and military communications technology.
Together with our partner, the Institute of Flight System Dynamics of the Technical University of Munich, our team took on the challenge of carrying out a comprehensive overall test of our DRONEVAC system after just two years of development in order to verify the performance and reliability of our technology in real field use. The results of the first mission flights not only confirmed our high expectations, but also put our vision of UAV-based rescue missions into practice.
The main aspect of the overall test was the verification of a functional complementary instance in the established military rescue chain under real operational conditions. The overall test not only demonstrated the airworthiness of the Grille, but also showed integration possibilities for connection to the existing rescue infrastructure. One of the focal points was the interaction of UGV and UAV for tactically reasonable coverage of various mission phases. Particularly worth mentioning is the resilience against EMI, which was demonstrated during the tests with the support of the EloKa-units (electronic warfare). Multiple redundant, dissimilar LOS and BLOS C2-links as well as inertial navigation provide the necessary protection of the system against jamming.
The results have strengthened our belief that our DRONEVAC technology guarantees the safe execution of rescue operations. For this reason, it is crucial to continue testing under real-life conditions during development. The proximity to reality has provided us valuable experience and thus system requirements, which we will now implement in the next development iterations.
It is also important for us to emphasize that we put manual flights to the test as part of this overall test, which of course also opened up room for human error. During one of the many manually flown take-off maneuvers, an incorrect control input by the pilot caused the UAV to tilt, resulting in the loss of some rotor blades. In the coming weeks, we plan to put the next functional level of the flight control system into service in order to carry out the entire mission from take-off to landing fully automatically, as planned from the start of development. This will ensure maximum safety and efficiency.
To summarize, the overall test was a major milestone for AVILUS, and we are drawing even more energy from it for the road ahead. Once again, we were able to prove that anything is possible with the right resources, the support of a dedicated team and a shared belief in a mission.
We would like to thank all guests, visitors, interested parties and supporters of the "Grille/Cricket" project who attended the Day of the Bundeswehr in the medical academy in Munich and the information teaching exercise of the medical services of the Bundeswehr at the medical teaching regiment in Feldkirchen. During these project presentations, we had the opportunity, among others, to have a professional exchange with Minister of State Dr. Florian Herrmann and State Secretary Roland Weigert. In particular, the feedback and the constructive discussions with the troops themselves on these occasions give us the opportunity to further refine and adjust the operational concept and to adapt it to the soldiers in combat. Not only on site, but also in the media (Handelsblatt, Deutschlandfunk, Soldat und Technik, PC Welt, European Security and Technology, Augsburger Allgemeine) we were able to perceive an echo and are happy about the positive response from the public.
The past two years have been quite a journey. The vision originating from experts of the military evacuation chain has transformed into reality and thus, the company AVILUS could evolve from zero to more than 30 employees, three operational facilities and a full-scale prototype aircraft. So far, only a few privileged people have gotten more insight into the development activities, but this will finally change on Saturday, 17th of June, 10:00 AM! At the kind invitation of the organizers, we will present our product at the Day of the Armed Forces (Tag der Bundeswehr) taking place on the property of the Sanitätsakademie der Bundeswehr in Munich. We are looking forward to your visit!
After a steep team ramp up in the beginning of the year, AVILUS is proud to present our new headquarters in Ismaning. The location is the perfect compromise for the mostly Munich based engineering team to stay in close vicinity to the flight operations test site in Manching. The Ismaning Offices will encompass all development work as well as the corresponding infrastructure e.g., our full system flight simulator. Besides the engineering department, the Ismaning Offices will host the marketing, human resources, business administration as well as IT department sections and therefore serve as headquarters to our mission. If you are interested to join AVILUS, please apply here: https://avilus.com/career.
Together with our partner, the institute of flight system dynamics of the Technical University of Munich, we presented our propeller measurement truck at the AERO 2022 in Friedrichshafen. A large part of the visitors was surprised by the unusual setup. The most frequently asked question - whether the measurement truck can fly - was asked several times. However, the experts in the area immediately recognized the use case of the vehicle. Many eVTOL developers consider the behavior of the power train under crossflow conditions as one of the critical points, which should be tested via physical experiments. The experts were very interested in the possibility to perform these type of measurements on our truck. Consequently, the presentation of the measurement truck at the AERO helped us to form new valuable partnerships.
We believe in model based development. For us, physical modeling is a key step to understand all important effects and internal design drivers of any complex system. Especially for novel aircraft configurations without existing learning curves, model based design is crucial for increasing development speed and reducing financial as well as safety risks. Keeping the simulation models as close as possible to physical reality is a challenge we at AVILUS face with a pragmatic approach. First of all, we only model the important effects for the system characteristics. Second of all, we use physical experiments to verify and identify our models. For electric power trains for example, we rely on truck tests presented in our last blog. Based on the obtained models, our inhouse generic and efficient aircraft simulation and analysis framework allows us to develop various aircraft systems at low cost and high speed.
We use the simulation models for aircraft design, aircraft performance and controllability assessment, flight control system design and pilot training in our simulator. Before a first flight test, we always test our implemented flight control algorithms in model in the loop (MIL) and hardware in the loop (HIL) simulations. Another advantage of model based development is the possibility of automating parts of the extensive tests required during the aircraft development phase. With this approach we can highly increase the safety and confidence for aircraft operation while keeping speed high and development costs low. As you can already see from the last paragraphs, model based development is a fundamental part of our every day live at AVILUS. This entry today only serves as quick top level introduction to our design philosophy at AVILUS. The next entries will give more detailed insights in specific challenges and innovative solutions we can offer at AVILUS.
The best way to overcome the issue of high uncertainty in modeling and simulation is measurement.
The unique test truck of AVILUS allows a high frequency recording of all propeller forces and moments under hover and crossflow conditions. Our equipment provides a setup with variable angles of attack from pure crossflow down to pure positive and negative axial flow. Furthermore, our customers can choose in between a single and a coaxial setup with adjustable axial spacing.
Propeller aerodynamics of axial flow are well understood, can be easily modeled by readily available tools or could simply be measured on static test rigs. In contrast, the aeroelastic behavior of propellers under crossflow conditions is highly complex to predict. Crossflow occurs e.g. during transition of lift and cruise vehicles or during forward flight of multicopters. The complexity of prediction in this working state arises from uncertainties in structural dynamic excitations, strongly non-uniform inflow and effects of compressibility. The uncertainty is even increased when it comes coaxial units due to the mutual interactions of the tilted wakes. The figure displays simulation results of the propeller pitching moment for different structural stiffnesses of the blades.