Perspectives & Trends for Development of an Autonomous & Intelligent WIG-Craft and its Peculiar Control Problems Automatic Control & Applications
In the paper a scientific and technological analysis has been presented for the perspectives and trends for development of an Autonomous and Intelligent Wing-In-Ground Effect Vehicle (EKRANOPLANE) mainly for Coastal Monitoring and Search & Rescue Operations and their peculiar control problems. The necessary Autopilots and Automatic Control Systems have been developed and described especially considering such crafts for their various modes of motion. Also has been described the special Phase-Radioaltimeter created in IIAAT for such purposes. Some alternate and secondary sources of power and energy for such systems for round the clock sea surveillance have also been suggested.
Continuous developments in the fields of UAVs and USVs have now paved the path for developing Unmanned WIGs which are aimed to integrate many properties, characteristics and functions of both the UAVs and the USVs. Definitely a few types of conventional UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are able to perform very low-altitude flight close to the sea surface. But the stability and control at extremely low altitude is a very complex task. As for Ekranoplanes or WIGs, they are specially designed for performing such low-altitude motion and if appropriately designed, stability is highly supported by the Dynamic Air-Cushion. The research activity is aimed to develop unmanned maritime WIG vehicle that may be air-delivered or may take-off from the sea surface or land surface autonomously and be applied for Maritime Surveillance, Coastal Patrolling and Search & Rescue Operations. They may be deployed either singularly for surveillance of different regions, or else a number of such vehicles may be used for Joint and Combined Autonomous Operations. Some special algorithms have been developed when a group of such vehicles have to work together. The advantages of their exploitation in places where ships, hydrofoil vehicles and helicopters are too slow and aircrafts are not able to carry out very low altitude tasks are unmatchable. Special focus and attention is paid for provision of effective control during extremely low flight and stability provision.
Apart from the technical pre-requisites, a brief analysis has also been carried out for the Commercial Viability and Market Analysis for such highly promising and highly advanced next generation unmanned amphibious vehicles.