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Mean Looking Quad-Rotor Micro Air Vehicle Performs “Precise Aggressive Maneuvers”

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

From some fertile minds at the University of Pennsylvania’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab comes the meanest looking quad-rotor micro air vehicle I’ve ever seen.

DARPA, as well as all the services, are funding research into Micro Air Vehicles, drones small enough to fit in the palm of your hand fitted with sensors that can penetrate deep inside buildings, tunnels, caves and urban canyons searching out the enemy. The Brits use the small 6-inch WASP MAV in Afghanistan.

The next step is to arm the little suckers. A networked MAV swarm carrying small explosive charges in kamikaze attacks could take out vehicles, missile batteries, radar installations or other soft targets like people. A swarm of these quad-rotor MAVs coming your way would definitely give you pause.

– Greg Grant

Unmanned Resupply Helicopter Can Fly Sling Loads to Multiple Remote Locations

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

One of the more promising bits of technology showcased at this year’s Navy League Sea-Air-Space Expo is the K-MAX rotary wing cargo drone. It uses the Kaman intermeshing rotor design and lacks a tail rotor and is capable of day and night operations.

As with other drones, such as Predator, a ground station operator can remotely fly the K-MAX via a satellite link. Even better, the K-MAX can be preprogrammed to lift off with multiple loads on its four-hook carousel, fly to remote locations and drop off loads at four different locations.

The unmanned helicopter can lift 4,300 pound loads up to 15,000 ft.; only a Chinook helicopter can lift heavier loads at higher altitudes, said Terry Fogarty, Kaman general manager. In tests at Yuma proving grounds it flew with a 1,500 pound load up to 17,000 ft.

Because loads are carried at the end of a long tether, the K-MAX doesn’t actually touch down, it autonomously comes onto the landing area, when the weight is off the hook as the sling load sets down, the hook opens, drops the load and the helicopter is off to its next location. The Kaman-Lockheed Martin K-MAX team is also testing air drops.

K-MAX flew for the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory in January at Dugway Proving Grounds, Ut., as part of a $860,000 demonstration contract. The Marines plan to deploy two K-MAX helicopters to Afghanistan later this year for operational tests. “We have a system ready to deploy,” said Fogarty. The K-MAX team is also pursuing an Army contract for unmanned delivery.

– Greg Grant

The Little Bot that Could

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008


Here’s a pretty interesting piece of defense tech sent over by DT reader Travis the other day about an innovative mast system that can be used in unmanned ground vehicles that allows the diminutive bots to see over high walls.

The so called Situational Awareness Mast uses a patented interlock system that differentiates it from telescoping masts that take up a lot of room and weight when stowed, thereby limiting their extension height.

Here’s what Hizook blog said about it…

The Situational Awareness Mast (SAM, also known as a Zipper Mast) from Geosystems Inc. is a telescoping linear actuator that has a unique property — it’s stroke length is an order of magnitude greater than its nominal height! For example, the SAM8 is a 10 lb device with a stroke length (8ft) that is 24 times it’s nominal height (4 inches)! This can be used to vertically translate a robot’s sensor suite for better visibility while still allowing for a low profile. Read on for information on the different Zipper Mast variants, the patent describing the system, and an exclusive video of a Zipper Mast on an iRobot Packbot!

Be sure to check out Hizook for more details on how Geosystems accomplishes the low-profile boom. They’ve got pics from the patent and other schematics. As with UAVs, UGVs are beginning to come into their own and I know from personal experience they’re a potential lifesaver on a battlefield strewn with IEDs, mines and other boobie traps.

And here’s a video of the system that best explains how it works.

Geosystems Situational Awareness Mast (aka Zippermast) from Travis on Vimeo

– Christian

Insectobots Coming

Monday, November 24th, 2008


From the headlines at Military​.com:

If only we could be a fly on the wall when our enemies are plotting to attack us. Better yet, what if that fly could record voices, transmit video and even fire tiny weapons?

That kind of James Bond-style fantasy is actually on the drawing board. U.S. military engineers are trying to design flying robots disguised as insects that could one day spy on enemies and conduct dangerous missions without risking lives.

“The way we envision it is, there would be a bunch of these sent out in a swarm,” said Greg Parker, who helps lead the research project at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton. “If we know there’s a possibility of bad guys in a certain building, how do we find out? We think this would fill that void.“

In essence, the research seeks to miniaturize the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle drones used in Iraq and Afghanistan for surveillance and reconnaissance.

The next generation of drones, called Micro Aerial Vehicles, or MAVs, could be as tiny as bumblebees and capable of flying undetected into buildings, where they could photograph, record, and even attack insurgents and terrorists.

By identifying and assaulting adversaries more precisely, the robots would also help reduce or avoid civilian casualties, the military says.

Parker and his colleagues plan to start by developing a bird-sized robot as soon as 2015, followed by the insect-sized models by 2030.


Not Quite T2…

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008


…but close.

From Military​.com headlines:

Killer robots which can change their shape to squeeze under doors and through cracks in walls to track their prey are moving from the realms of science fiction to the front line in the fight against terrorism.

The US military has signed a GBP 1.6m deal with a technology firm to design robots which are intelligent enough to work out how to wiggle through small spaces to reach their target.

The action film, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, featured a seemingly unstoppable killer robot played by Robert Patrick. The machine was made from liquid metal and could change its form to slide under doors and walk through iron bars.

America’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) and the Army Research Office has awarded the contract to iRobot, which has developed other robots for the military.

They want scientists to come up with a design for a tiny robot able to move under its own power and change shape so it can get through gaps less than half an inch wide.

The US administration has not said what it wants the robot to do but its specification says: “Often the only available points of entry are small openings in buildings, walls, under doors, etc. In these cases, a robot must be soft enough to squeeze or traverse through small openings, yet large enough to carry an operationally meaningful payload.”


Another Good Look at the Sarcos Exoskeleton

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

(I’m still partial to Troy’s suit, if not for the spot-on marketing techniques [joking])…

(Gouge: CL)

– Christian

Bionic Arm

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Last week we had exoskeletons…this week it’s bionic arms. And I think this is from the guy who invented the Segway.

[Source: All Things Video]


– Christian

Bum Bot on Patrol

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Military​.com has an interesting story about a “bum bot” that rolls around an Atlanta neighborhood:

Cars passing O’Terrill’s pub screech to a halt at the sight of a 300-pound, waist-high robot marked “SECURITY” rolling through downtown long after dark.

The regulars hardly glance outside. They’ve seen bar owner Rufus Terrill’s invention on patrol before — its bright red lights and even brighter spot light blazing, infrared video camera filming and water cannon at the ready in the spinning turret on top.

“You’re trespassing. That’s private property,” Terrill scolds an older man through the robot’s loudspeaker. The man is sitting at the edge of the driveway to a child care center down the street. “Go on.”

The man’s hands go up and he shuffles into the shadows. Almost immediately, a group of men behind him scatters too.

The Bum Bot’s reputation, it seems, has preceded it.

The electronic vigilante — on the beat since September — has enraged neighborhood activists, who have threatened protests. Street people say it’s intimidating. And homeless advocates question the intentions of its inventor, who uses the Bum Bot as a marketing tool and a political prop.

Read the rest of the article here.

– Ward

Army Also Wants Bat Recce Capability

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Bionic bat.bmp
As a supplement to the UAV plan outlined in the post below, Gizmodo has a post about this wild concept the Army has laid at the feet of select engineering schools, including the University of Michigan. Here’s an excerpt:

The proposal is for the bat to be just six inches in length, weigh only four ounces and use just one watt of power, backed by a lithium-ion battery, which could be charged by not just solar energy, but wind energy and random vibrations as well. The bat’s intended goal would be to run surveillance ops and relay data in realtime, including sights and sounds from minicams and mini-microphones, but also radiation and poison gas readings.


Video: “Send more robots!”

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

Here’s a quick video fix to start your Tuesday:

As the man says, “Why send a soldier when you can send a robot?”

– Ward