We got our first look at Japan’s Defense Ministry’s spherical flying machine earlier this year, but at a recent technology expo in Tokyo the hovering ball got the full coming-out treatment, complete with public demos eliciting “ooohs” and “aaaahs.” The video below shows the drone doing everything it was designed to do: zipping around omnidirectionally, rolling across the floor, and staying aloft even when it strikes--or is struck by--an obstacle.
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.
The U.S. military has drones, lots of them if the daily reports coming in from Afghanistan and Pakistan are any indication. And a handful of law enforcement groups--though less than would like--have a drone or two at their disposal. But on the domestic, non-security front, drones live a in a regulatory gray area. Hobbyists can use them, but commercial entities are not supposed to employ drones for any kind of monetary gain, says the FAA.
Last year at the Black Hat and Defcon security conferences in Las Vegas, a former Air Force cyber security contractor and a former Air Force engineering systems consultant displayed their 14-pound, six-foot-long unmanned aerial vehicle, WASP (Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform).
Engineers at the University of Southampton in the UK have designed, printed, and sent skyward the world’s first aircraft manufactured almost entirely via 3-D printing technology. The UAV--dubbed SULSA (Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft)--is powered by an electric motor that is pretty much the only part of the aircraft not created via additive manufacturing methods.
By Joshua SaulPosted 05.20.2011 at 11:03 am 7 Comments
In 2006, Darpa, the Department of Defense's R&D arm, commissioned AeroVironment, a company specializing in remote aircraft, to create an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) small enough to fly through an open window. AeroVironment had already built the 4.5-foot-wingspan Raven, which first saw combat over Afghanistan in 2003, but making a UAV so much smaller took five years and 300 different wing designs.
About a month ago we wrote about robot maker TiaLinx Inc.'s Cougar20-H robot, a rolling ground-based 'bot with sensors so acute it can detect a person breathing through a concrete wall. But, as we (and others) pointed out at the time, the limited mobility of a terrestrial robot limited the Cougar's applications.
If the idea of being hunted by an unmanned aerial drone is unnerving the thought of multiple robots planning a coordinated attack is downright frightening. Unfortunately for those who have to worry about such things, the DoD is working on software tools that allow robots in the sky and on the ground to do exactly that.
The future of carrier-based warfare quietly took to the skies over the weekend as the U.S. Navy successfully conducted the first-ever flight of its vaunted X-47B unmanned aircraft at Edwards AFB. The tailless, fighter-sized drone aircraft, designed by Northrop Grumman for carrier-based takeoffs and landings, spent half an hour in the air late Friday executing basic navigation maneuvers and otherwise proving that its design is airworthy and ready for further development.