America's drone fleet has become an increasingly relied-upon wing of its counter-insurgency strategy and plays a key role in its geopolitical policy, particularly in Pakistan where unmanned aircraft routinely venture into sovereign territory and deliver lethal payloads to targets on the ground.
The idea of small, man portable, soldier-launched aerial drones has been catching on for some time now with military operations commanders, as they bring the unique situational awareness and reconnaissance capabilities of larger drone aircraft down to the platoon--or even the individual--level. Now, the U.S. Army is taking the idea to the next level, ordering its first batch of weaponized drones capable of launching from small, portable tube and suicide bombing a target from above.
At AUVSI's unmanned systems conference a couple of weeks ago, the FAA paid a good deal of lip service to the idea of integrating robotic, unmanned aircraft into the national airspace. Then they basically told those of us in the crowd that they would have the regulations ready by 2025 (notably, the speakers didn't pause for applause at this time). But not every government is being so patient.
This summer's crippling famine in Somalia, which has killed tens of thousands of people and led half a million more to seek refuge in Kenya, is notable for many reasons — but the theft and sale of life-saving aid is arguably one of the worst. A new project could be one way to prevent such atrocity in the future: Use drones to drop food and drugs right where they're needed, no human intervention required. Enter the Matternet.
The offer came simply via the subject line of an email: "Want to fly a drone?" It was from Todd Backus of DATRON, a maker of--among other things--military grade radio communication systems and tactical data networking setups based in Vista, Calif. It was a question that didn't require a whole lot of consideration on my part--if there were drones to fly at AUVSI's massive unmanned systems show in Washington D.C. last week, I was going to fly them.
And that's how I end up on a soccer pitch far from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center piloting a small quadcopter drone and quietly praying that we won't be arrested.
Commanding an army of drones is one thing; letting drones command themselves is something else entirely, especially when they have very little in common. Boeing recently tested a swarm network to help disparate drones work together, sending two types of unmanned aerial vehicles on a reconnaissance mission over eastern Oregon.
As promised, Lockheed Martin finally put its SAMARAI monocopter drone on display at AUVSI's drone extravaganza in D.C. this week, for the first time flying it before a public audience as PopSci and everyone else in the air demo area looked on in awe.
After years of development and military funding setbacks, defense contractor Lockheed Martin is finally ready to debut its maple seed-inspired drone. The one-winged, one-foot-long SAMARAI drone just flew a test flight for the Associated Press ahead of its official unveiling at an unmanned vehicle conference next week.
When you don't have an advanced flying spy drone, launching a wireless camera 500 feet into the air could be your best option. But most people, even in law enforcement, don't have access to 40mm grenade launchers, the logical choice for such a task. How about using a flare gun instead?
By Andrew RosenblumPosted 08.04.2011 at 2:52 pm 0 Comments
Some of the students interning on the Micro-autonomous Systems Technology (MAST) project at the Army Research Lab in Maryland spend their summer trying to equip soldiers with dozens or even hundreds of “insect” robots that can swarm into a bunker or cave to provide a remote look inside. “Working in silicon at the fruit-fly scale, they’ll cost almost nothing,” says Chris Kroninger, an aeronautics researcher specializing in MAST’s wings, “and they can be equipped with limited sensor capability that can be a first warning for a soldier.”