MONCh spoke to Nicolas Sczaniecki, CEO of Internest, a start-up visited by French President Emmanuel Macron during his visit at Euronaval last October, and which recently signed a contract to work with Naval Group to test their innovative positioning system for rotary wings on Naval Group’s platforms.
“The starting point of Internest was the desire to create an embedded system that could be installed on rotary wing platforms in order to facilitate and secure their landing, thus seeking to reduce the risks associated with these delicate operations,” Mr Sczaniecki told MONCh. Internest’s Local Landing System (LoLaS) works by installing two sensors on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and four sensors on the mother-platform; the sensors on the UAV send ultrasounds to the sensors on the platform, where an electronic board works out the exact position of the UAV and sends the information back to the flying system, so that during the landing phase it knows at all times its position in relation to the mother-platform and can adjust accordingly. More technical details are available here: http://internest.fr/assets/uploads/public/lazy/INTERNEST_flyerA5_VISTAPRINT_DEF.pdf
“What distinguishes us is the use ultrasound to provide reliable positioning and guiding,” said Mr Sczaniecki. “This allows to send information that is precise to the centimetre through a system that is resilient to jamming - as one would have to be right next to the system to jam it -, has an autonomous architecture that does not depend on satellites or subjected to weather conditions like vision based solutions, and is platform agnostic.” Internest's strength also lies in the sensor fusion expertise, which recently led to the integration of Ultra Wide Band (UWB) and which illustrates how the system can merge and analyse data from a wide variety of sensors at once, leaving room for integration with other technologies.
Today, the system has already been proven and sold to commercial customers in France and around the world in countries such as Singapore, USA, Japan, Sweden, Germany, Spain and Israel. Within the defence domain Internest is currently working with Airbus and Nexter to build LoLaS into their platforms. Talks with SAFRAN in France, Air Robot in Germany and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) are also on-going. Additionally, during Euronaval, Naval Group announced that the company would be working with Internest to develop a system that would facilitate landing on Naval Group’s ships; this initiative fits within the wider aim of the French Navy’s chief of staff to have a UAV for each of the fleet’s platforms. “Our strengths here are that we are a French start-up, which would allow the French Navy to retain sovereignty over its systems, and because we use ultrasound our system does not interfere with the frequencies used by all the other systems on-board,” Mr Sczaniecki added. Internest has already tested LoLaS on platforms that simulate the pitching and rolling of a ship, and Naval Group has made the commitment to undertake the first tests on its platforms before year’s end.
As the company evolves, Mr Sczaniecki indicated that the aim is to extend the system’s applications and capabilities. One goal is to be able to use LoLaS with helicopters, facilitating their landing on naval platforms, arguably one of the most difficult tasks of their mission. Another goal would be to extend the use of the system to the entire flight, rather than only the critical part once close to the landing deck. “Today we focus on the landing, which is the most critical part, but over the longer term we seek to become a partner capable of providing solutions for the security of rotary wing platforms in critical phases, especially providing a ‘sense and avoid’ function to reduce collision risks and avoid obstacles from approaching to landing,” concluded Mr Sczaniecki.