Hampton, VA-Based Mitre Corporation Introduces a New Maritime Surveillance Drone

Tracking hurricanes and other extreme weather events with nautical drones is a special niche.  For the past two years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in partnership with a private firm, Sail Drone, has been doing just that.  The company’s specially designed and equipped drones are deployed in hurricane prone areas to gather vital meteorological data that even the sturdiest aerial drones – to say nothing of surface vessels – would find daunting to collect.   But now the Hampton, VA-based Mitre Corporation — which designs a vast array of aerial drones, often in partnership with the Pentagon – has joined the fray – or the spray.  It’s about to test the proposition that only water-borne drone vessels are up to the job.

The company’s drone, dubbed the “Hopper,” was developed in conjunction with the Office of Naval Research (ONR).  It was primarily designed for long-range surveillance and reconnaissance missions, especially in the Pacific, where China’s expanding influence is of growing concern.  But Mitre and the ONR also envision a major commercial and scientific role for the state-of-the art aircraft.  Its non-military missions could include search and rescue, monitoring for illicit activity (for example, illegal fishing), and like Sail Drone, detecting meteorological events.

The Hopper has the same long-distance autonomous operating capacity as a Sail Drone, thanks to solar panels that can keep the craft’s batteries at full power. It primarily flies but can also land and float on the water to conduct its missions, or simply to rest and recharge. It gathers a wide range of data using a bevy of lower-power passive sensors.  And it comes equipped with commercial electronic systems that allow it to maintain constant communication with surface vessels or shore command centers, and to relay collected data for real time processing.

Hopper’s advanced communications also provides for another state-of-the art innovation:  Its ability to fly as part of a larger aerial fleet or “drone swarm” to collect vast amounts of data in different niches simultaneously, everything from signal monitoring and marine biological research to meteorological monitoring and forecasting.  A Hopper swarm can survey large areas collectively, notifying each drone of potential ocean barriers to allow for obstacle avoidance.  As a team, the swarm can also remain on station despite ocean currents, waves, or winds that threaten to push them off course.

It took Mitre just 24 months to design and produce the first Hopper prototype which is currently being tested at ONR facilities in Virginia.

“It’s been inspiring to see Hopper rapidly develop from an idea to flight-capable hardware,” says ONR’s Lee Mastroianni, program officer for advanced autonomous systems. “The MITRE team provided a wealth of insight and innovation in support of our naval objectives.”

With its unique capabilities, the Hopper is poised to make a big impact in both defense and civil applications, its designers say.

“We’re working to evolve Hopper with expanded payload capacity, longer flight duration, and shorter times between recharges—to create an even more powerful platform,” Conor Mahoney, MITRE’s chief designer, says.

Mahoney’s team is also working to equip Hopper with miniature radios and satellites to enable the craft to communicate from maritime environments under all conditions and anywhere in the world.

ABOUT US: DroneVideos.com is a Nationwide Media Company specializing in custom Drone Videos for real estate, commercial, farms, construction, golf courses, roof inspections and more. All of our Drone Operators are fully licensed and insured. When you purchase a Drone Video Package from us, you will receive a video professionally edited, color corrected and presented to you on an SEO-Friendly webpage that you can easily share online and on Social Media with a click of a button. Click here to get started.
Start Your Order
We Offer a Variety of Drone Video Packages
to Fit Your Needs and Budget