Drones News - Page 9
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) hopes to make it easier for troops on the ground, fighting in remote locations where airstrikes aren't readily available, to use smartphones to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Specifically, DARPA wants help with the Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded Systems (ARES) design concept.
"Many missions require dedicated vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) assets, but most ground units don't have their own helicopters," said Ashish Bagai, DARPA program manager, in a press statement. "ARES would make organic and versatile VTOL capability available to many more individual units. Our goal is to provide flexible, terrain-independent transportation that avoids ground-based threats, in turn supporting expedited, cost-effective operations and improving the likelihood of mission success."
The ARES is in its third and final phase, with Lockheed Martin currently taking the lead on DARPA's research.
If a drone is flying high in the sky above you, they can be hard to spot, but when you do see it, it looks like a drone. This might not be the case in another 5-10 years, with the US Army finding a solution to this: making the drones, look like birds.
Enter Maveric, which features a bird-like profile, with flexible wings. The drone is made from composite metal, and can fly at heights of 25,000 feet, scooting along at 20-65 mph. Derek Lyons, Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Prioria Robotics, said: "There was a Special Operations requirement for a plane that had a natural, biological look - it wasn't supposed to look DoD-ish."
Prioria Robotics won a $4.5 million contract from the US Army's Rapid Equipping Force to make 36 of the bird-like drones for an urgent, undisclosed need. Earlier this month, training to use the Maveric began at the Joint Special Operations Task Force, with full-equipped delivery expected this month. One of the major benefits of Maveric is that it weighs just 2.5 pounds, and is capable of being contained in a 6-inch tube.
It's often said that laws can't keep up with modern technology. Interestingly enough, this phrase has been used a lot lately in conjunction with drones, specifically in regards to whether or not they should be allowed to fly over US soil. The US government apparently isn't the only interested group in using drones.
A resident in Seattle, WA tells CHS:
This afternoon, a stranger set an aerial drone into flight over my yard and beside my house near Miller Playfield. I initially mistook its noisy buzzing for a weed-whacker on this warm spring day. After several minutes, I looked out my third-story window to see a drone hovering a few feet away. My husband went to talk to the man on the sidewalk outside our home who was operating the drone with a remote control, to ask him to not fly his drone near our home. The man insisted that it is legal for him to fly an aerial drone over our yard and adjacent to our windows. He noted that the drone has a camera, which transmits images he viewed through a set of glasses. He purported to be doing "research". We are extremely concerned, as he could very easily be a criminal who plans to break into our house or a peeping-tom.
This issue brings with it various legal questions. For instance, the Supreme Court ruled in 1946 that "the air is a public highway." But just how low does this public highway extend? Would a person be able to put a camera on a pole and get away with the same thing?
The FAA has said that they are investigating a pilot's claim that he saw a drone flying over Brooklyn in New York. The pilot claims to have seen the drone while on final approach to John F Kennedy Airport. Over the radio, he can be heard saying, "We saw a drone, a drone aircraft."
"The FAA is investigating a report...he saw a small, unmanned or remote-controlled aircraft while on final approach to Runway 31 Right. The sighting was approximately four to five miles west of the airport at an altitude of approximately 1,500 feet," FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said in a statement.
Other aircraft in the area was warned of the drone sighting, but two other pilots said that they did not see the drone. The FAA is working on new rules to allow unmanned aircraft to be flown in US airspace. Generally only governments and public entities, such as police departments, are allowed to operate them. Even they must apply for permission first.
It will be interesting to see if anything comes from this investigation. A drone doesn't really have any business being over a busy area like Brooklyn, so if the FAA confirms the claim, the most important aspect will be figuring out who was in control of the drone.
It looks like the US skies are about to get a little scarier, with next-generation military drones being unveiled by a top US manufacturer. These new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will sport an ultra-light laser, which is capable of reportedly destroying an object at the speed of light - yikes.
Someone close to the High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) told Time magazine "it would give us an unlimited magazine".
The Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA), over the last four years, have handed contractor General Atomics over $60 million to develop, and then scale the HELLADS project, which contains a very powerful 150kW laser. Lasers available at that strength contain the power to destroy an incoming rocket or plane, but are very big and heavy - meaning they're only capable of being deployed on stationary defense systems.
We know that the US government, and many others, use drones for 'security' purposes, but mostly for spying and intel gathering activities. But, even at the size they are now, they can't really be seen all that well to the unsuspecting eye.
What if they could get small enough to fly right next to you without you even noticing? Surely, I jest. But, it's no lie, or trick. Vanessa Alarcon was a college student when she attended a 2007 anti-war protest in Washington, D.C. and heard someone shout "Oh my God, look at those". Alarcon told The Washington Post:
I look up and I'm like, 'What the hell is that?' They looked like dragonflies or little helicopters. But I mean, those are not insects.
There was a lawyer at the protest at the time who confirmed they did look like dragonflies, but that they "definitely weren't insects". Back in 2006, Flight International reported that the CIA had been developing micro UAV's all the way back in the 1970's, and even had a mock-up in their Langley headquarters since 2003.
Police in Canberra suggest that their new point-to-point speed cameras be lined to unmanned aerial surveillance drones and used to track vehicles of interest to authorities. The first of the cameras will sport automated number plate recognition technology to calculate a car's average speed and whether it is within the legal limit, are due to hit the skies by the end of the year. Of course, with unmanned drones flying through the skies, they can be used for other tasks not linked to tracking cars.
Minutes from a Government point-to-point steering committee meeting held in June 2010 show that police recommended a broader range of uses for the cameras. According to the minutes which were obtained by the Opposition under the Freedom of Information Act, a senior police officer said the cameras could be used for other purposes. The minutes stated:
He noted that the use of P2P ANPR cameras to detect unregistered, stolen and other vehicles of interest would provide ongoing and longer term benefits for the project. a specific benefit would derive if the P2P cameras were linked to UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] which could track vehicles of interest.
While I was checking out 3dvia's 3D game development engine, I couldn't help but notice some reverberating techno dance music. I looked to my left and noticed the following:
Maybe it was the music, maybe it was the giant cage- I had to go check it out. I had heard a lot about the AR.Drone previously, but never seen it in person. I experience a moment of eager child-like euphoria as I realized there was no line, just spectators, and that I would be able to fly it like one of those annoying kiosk dudes in every mall in America- but I just as soon realized that they weren't allowing attendees to try it out. I spoke to the rep in French for a bit (no big deal) and he explained to me that the Moscone Center wireless was too spotty to let people test it out, and they had the Drone on automatic pilot. Damn you Moscone Center!