• Flying mine detectorNavy tests new mine-detection drone

    The new Mine Warfare Rapid Assessment Capability (MIW RAC) system is a portable, remote-controlled system that can detect buried or underwater mines during amphibious beach landings. It’s designed to help explosive ordnance disposal teams quickly find mines and dangerous metal obstacles within coastal surf zones and very-shallow-water zones. MIW RAC consists of a one-pound quadcopter outfitted with an ultra-sensitive magnetometer sensor system to detect mines and provide real-time search data to a handheld Android device.

     

  • DronesService Academies Swarm Challenge: Expanding the capabilities UAV swarms

    More than forty Cadets and Midshipmen from the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the U.S. Air Force Academy helped expand the capabilities of swarms of highly autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) last month in the Service Academies Swarm Challenge. In the skies over Camp Roberts, an Army National Guard post north of Paso Robles, Calif., each academy demonstrated the innovative offensive and defensive tactics they had developed over the school year. The three-day experiment concluded with an exciting aerial battle in which the Naval Academy took home the win, a trophy, and bragging rights over its rival academies.

  • DronesService Academies Swarm Challenge: Controlling drone swarms

    UAVs and other robots have become increasingly affordable, capable, and available to both the U.S. military and adversaries alike. Enabling UAVs and similar assets to perform useful tasks under human supervision — that is, carrying out swarm tactics in concert with human teammates — holds tremendous promise to extend the advantages U.S. soldiers have in field operations. A persistent challenge in achieving this capability, however, has been scalability: enabling one operator to oversee multiple robotic platforms and have them perform highly autonomous behaviors without direct teleoperation. To help make effective swarm tactics a reality, DARPA created the Service Academies Swarm Challenge, a collaboration between the Agency and the three U.S. military Service academies.

  • DronesFuzzy logic to help drones land themselves on moving platforms

    The buzzword in drone research is autonomous — having the unmanned aerial vehicle do most or all of its own flying. Researchers are using artificial intelligence, called fuzzy logic, to get drones to navigate and land themselves on moving platforms. This holds promise for commercial uses such as delivering packages.

  • Drone catchingSideArm prototype catches full-size drones flying at full speed

    Few scenes capture the U.S. Navy’s prowess as effectively as the rapid-fire takeoff and recovery of combat jets from the deck of an aircraft carrier. The ability to carry air power anywhere in the world, and both launch those aircraft to flight speed and bring them to a stop over extremely short distances, has been essential to carriers’ decades-long dominance of naval warfare. To help provide similar capabilities—minus the 90,000-ton carriers—to U.S. military units around the world, DARPA’s SideArm research effort seeks to create a self-contained, portable apparatus able to horizontally launch and retrieve unmanned aerial systems (UASs) of up to 900 pounds. The self-contained, portable apparatus can be used to launch and retrieve unmanned aircraft from trucks, ships, and fixed bases.

  • DronesBird-inspired drone navigation

    When they need to change direction, increase their speed, or counter headwinds, birds alter the configuration of their wings. To steer, for example, they spread one wing and slightly retract the other. By adjusting their wingspan in this way, they create a calculated imbalance that causes them to turn. Up to now, only birds could do this so effectively. Researchers have equipped a drone with feathers to increase its precision during flight. The bio-inspired device can spread or close its wings while flying, making it easier to maneuver and more resistant in high winds.

  • Mapping disasters areasUsing drones, insect biobots to map disaster areas

    Researchers have developed a combination of software and hardware that will allow them to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and insect cyborgs, or biobots, to map large, unfamiliar areas – such as collapsed buildings after a disaster. “The idea would be to release a swarm of sensor-equipped biobots – such as remotely controlled cockroaches – into a collapsed building or other dangerous, unmapped area,” says one of the researchers.

  • DronesAdvanced anti-drone protection and neutralization system unveiled

    Elbit Systems will use the Israel HLS & Cyber Conference, taking place this week in Tel Aviv, to unveil its ReDrone system, a solution for protection of closed air spaces, national infrastructures, and other critical areas against hostile drones penetrating the protected perimeter. The new system addresses growing global demand for effective – and affordable — airspace protection against hostile drones.

  • DronesUser-centric control software improves drone pilot performance, safety

    A new study into the safety of drone control interfaces suggests that an overhaul of remote control methods ranging from joysticks to smartphone apps could reduce the number of drone accidents. The findings suggest that current user interfaces used in some drones makes it difficult for pilots to perceive hazards and react appropriately.

  • DronesTracking low-flying unmanned aerial systems in cities

    Airspace for the flying public today is perpetually congested yet remarkably safe, thanks in no small part to a well-established air traffic control system that tracks, guides, and continuously monitors thousands of flights a day. When it comes to small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) such as commercial quadcopters, however, no such comprehensive tracking system exists. And as off-the-shelf UAS become less expensive, easier to fly, and more adaptable for terrorist or military purposes, U.S. forces will increasingly be challenged by the need to quickly detect and identify such craft — especially in urban areas, where sight lines are limited and many objects may be moving at similar speeds.

  • DronesRules governing targeted killing by U.S. drones need clarifying

    Since the beginning of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has dramatically increased use of unmanned drones, developing technology to target and kill those identified as being terrorist leaders. Current U.S. policies on using drones for targeted killing are characterized by ambiguities in interpretations of international law and too many generalities, despite recent efforts by the Obama administration to clarify the policies, a new report finds.

  • DronesTechnical problems rather than operator errors cause most drone accidents

    Research has found that technical problems rather than operator errors are behind the majority of drone accidents, leading to a call for further safeguards for the industry. One of the researchers said the findings illustrated the need for further airworthiness requirements for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), as well as the mandatory reporting of all accidents or incidents. “Understanding what happens to drones, even those that don’t cause damage to people or property, is essential to improve safety,” he said.

  • DronesPolice seized drones trying to smuggle contraband into London prison

    The police have seized two drones carrying drugs and mobile phones as they were making their way toward the all-male Pentonville jail in Islington, north London. Drones were increasingly being used to smuggle items into prisons in England and Wales. Figures showed there were thirty-three incidents involving devices in 2015, compared to two in 2014 and none in 2013.bDrugs, phones, mobile chargers, and USB cards were among the items discovered.

  • DronesThe political role of drone strikes in U.S. grand strategy

    By Jacqueline L. Hazelton

    Years of debate on the issue of U.S. drone strikes show that many Americans have reservations. People are concerned that drone strikes devalue non-American lives, dangerously expand executive power, and drive terrorism and anti-Americanism. The concerns Americans have about these kinds of drone attacks – apparently unilateral, apparently violating the norm of state sovereignty, and conducted without a formal justice process — reflect well on a public wondering what the U.S. role in the world should be. But assessing the value of drone strikes requires looking beyond the attacks themselves to first identify and prioritize U.S. interests and threats. Only in that context is it possible to decide whether one supports or opposes drone strikes for what they may gain the United States politically.

  • DronesSuccessful flight test of UAV with mass-actuated controls

    For the first time an unmanned aerial vehicle that uses moving weights in its wings, instead of traditional control surfaces or ailerons to turn, was successfully flight-tested. A recently graduated University of Texas at Arlington student  used existing UTA research to design, build, and test a UAV that uses mass actuation — weights that move back and forth within the wings to change the center of gravity from side to side — to turn while airborne.