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Loki Mk2 wins the Milipol Innovation Award 2021 in the drone & anti-drone, robotics category

Milipol Paris 2021 presented the third edition of the Milipol Innovation Awards, a competition for exhibitors at the show. The awards aim to reward the most innovative industrialists in the internal security sector of States, in terms of products, equipment, services, solutions or business models.

Loki Mk2 tactical sUAS
The Loki Mk2 tactical sUAS from Sky-Hero

In 2021, the Milipol Innovations Awards rewarded innovation in the following 5 categories:

  • Cybersecurity (solutions to combat cyber threats and cybercrime)

  • Security of major events (access control, flow management, biometric solutions, CCTV, detectors, AI solutions and new technologies...)

  • Personal equipment / protection of first responders (materials, textiles, fibres, fabrics and accessories))

  • Drone and anti-drone, robotics

  • Crisis management (alert to populations, crisis management, command and control)

The Loki Mk2 is the world's first tactical sUAS. Designed and built in collaboration with many of the world's best counter-terrorism units, the Loki Mk2 is intended for indoor and outdoor tactical reconnaissance missions. It is equipped with a very sensitive Night-Day + IR sensor camera that allows it to fly and see in total darkness. It provides police and military personnel with immediate capabilities to detect, reduce and gather critical threat intelligence before entering complex terrain such as dense urban areas, confined spaces and underpasses.

Helicomicro attended a demonstration of the Loki Mk2 and got to speak with Yves Coppye, the founder and CEO of Sky-Hero, a Belgian company pioneering in the field of drones.

Yves Coppye, CEO of Sky-Hero (left) and Alexis Franck, Managing Director (right)

Helicomicro: We previously saw each other at the FPV Air Show in 2016. What has happened with Sky-Hero since?

Yves Coppye: You had known us mainly in the field of the general public. We have totally changed sectors, we are now in the military. Everything changed in 2015 after the Paris attacks. The Belgian Special Forces, who were already using Sky-Hero equipment, asked us to offer technical equipment to enter and explore buildings without risking the lives of their men.

HM : Have you totally abandoned recreational drones?

YC: Yes, that's when we decided to stop recreational drones completely to focus on this project. It lasted a year, during which time we stopped our activity, and mobilized all our resources to work on the ground. We released a first version of our drone, the Loki 1.0, which sold very well – we even equipped the FBI offices in the United States. This allowed us to earn some money and hire people, and continue the development. We now offer its successor, the Loki Mk2.

Loki Mk2

HM: Is the hardware available to private companies?

YC: No, we only work with state structures. Private companies have approached us, but we have not responded positively because we do not want to diversify and mix activities.

HM: What is the Loki Mk2?

YC: It's a flying camera for indoors, intended to support assault columns. It is a small drone designed for operational missions. It is controlled with a remote control, with the help of video feedback. A single operator can control multiple devices, up to 4 simultaneously. The team leader can receive the video stream from all devices to quickly understand the situation.

Photo credit: Sky-Hero

HM: Is the video feedback protected?

YC: Video streams are analog, but they are encrypted to avoid being viewed by people who are not authorized. The signals from the remote control are also encrypted, in AES 256. The strategy we have imagined is based on the centralization of technical capabilities to have only one interface compatible with all specialties. The video streams are received by the remote controller, but we also offer a dedicated screen that allows them to be consulted remotely and simultaneously, also in an encrypted way. We can also close the streams if we consider that there is a need to do so, for example if a screen fell into the wrong hands. One can obviously choose not to encrypt the link, which makes it possible to view the stream on any analog video receiver. We can change the frequency during the flight, we can modify the transmission power to obtain an extended range, including through a succession of walls.

HM: Did the armed forces ask you where the devices were produced?

YC: Yes, of course, it's an important topic. We chose to design and build the Loki Mk2 ourselves. That is to say, all the mechanics, all the electronics, there is nothing more that is done in China. We make our electronic cards, our software, and it goes all the way to the camera, homemade. Research and development are located in Brussels, Flanders and Paris. All production is done in our factory in Vilnius Lithuania. Only the plastic injection still rests on a Chinese partner, with whom we have been working for 10 years.

[At this moment, I am interrupted by a visitor who calls me: "I am from Norway, I am equipped with this product, it is fantastic. There are many confrères in Scandinavia who use it, in Sweden, in Denmark." Nice advertisement for Sky-Hero, punctuated by a wide smile from Yves Coppye, obviously delighted with the impromptu intervention]

HM: Your customers seem satisfied, that's encouraging!

YC: We are indeed fortunate to have particularly good feedback, and we are present all over the world. It should be noted that, in addition to encrypting the data, care has been taken to ensure that the device works with a total absence of connection to the Internet. Software updates are done through a microSD memory card, which we provide.

HM: The images filmed by the Loki Mk2 are not recorded?

YC: The drone has no recording capability, it's a streamer. Only the team leader can record the video stream. The point is that if for some reason the drone is lost, it has no impact on safety.

HM: I saw that there was a cartridge system?

YC: Absolutely. The drone works with a payload system, which corresponds to a specific use. Simply clip the cartridge onto the drone for it to be operational. The software recognizes the payload and allows it to be operated remotely taking into account its particularities, from the remote control. It is not visible, but the algorithms automatically adapt to modify the center of gravity and flight behavior according to the weight, the goal being that there is no influence on the characteristics of the flight.

Photo credit: Typhon

HM: What are the types of cartridges?

YC: We have a few payload options! There is for example the distraction cartridge manufactured by Typhon, which fires 5 blank shots with a very high sound volume of 165 dB reproducing the sound of an AK47. This is very interesting for intervention groups because they can simulate the presence of a firearm and distract their targets to take advantage of a strategic advantage.

HM: There's also a disco mode!

YC: Almost! It is a payload with strobe capacity, which is based on LEDs at 3000 Lumens. The effect is powerful, especially since the interventions are often carried out in the dark. With 3000 Lumens in fast flashes, the target is totally disoriented. We also have a laser pointer that allows, for example, to work with canine brigades. The operator can point remotely, with the laser, the person on whom the dog must intervene.

Photo credit: Sky-Hero

HM: Is the piloting assisted?

YC: Yes, it is simplified, and take-off and landing are automatic, to simplify the task for the operator, who does not need to be a good pilot. Specific flight modes have also been added for certain uses. For example, the Floor mode allows the drone to stay on the ground. This allows the operator to easily go and look under a bed as an example, without having to manage the altitude of the drone.

HM: I saw that there was a Turtle Mode!

YC: Yes, but we go further than the simple reversal of recreational drones. You can force the Loki Mk2 to turn around when stuck against a wall, a situation that puts most drones, even those with a Turtle Mode, in default. It knows its orientation and knows which motors to operate and how many times until it manages to unhook. Another mode allows you to place it upside down automatically in a room and turn on a 2 Watt projector in infrared light, which helps a team to intervene with infrared equipment.

For more info on the Loki Mk2 system, visit: Tactical Indoor Drone | SSASS

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