The news below would be of interest to our readers.
Camera drones have exploded onto the scene in the past few years, and they’re being used by photographers around the world as a cheap and easy way to obtain aerial photos and videos. But what if you want both the convenience of a drone and the joy of being able to see and shoot things from the air with your own eyes and camera?
That’s where something like the Ehang 184 comes in: it’s a new giant drone that may one day fly both you and your camera.
Ehang, a Guangzhou, China-based company, is showing off the drone at CES 2016 in Las Vegas. Roughly the size of a small car, it’s a 4-foot-tall electric vehicle that looks like the oversized love child of a helicopter and a quadcopter (it has 8 propellers on 4 arms).
The 184 Personal Flying Vehicle (PFV) can carry a single person weighing up to 260 pounds and has a top speed of 62mph, a maximum altitude of 11,000 feet, a range of 10 miles, and a flight time of 23 minutes. Just like with many of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) out there, the 184 can fly itself without very much input from the passenger.
Using a simple app interface on a smartphone or tablet, you can tell the drone to take off, pause, and land with just a few taps. To determine where you’d like to fly, you can set waypoints using a map in the app.
Ehang says that the vehicle has a “fail safe system” that will immediately land you safely on the ground, even if any of the components malfunction or disconnect.
Other features in the drone include air conditioning, some storage space, a reading light, and a 4G connection.
The Ehang 184 is set to be commercially available sometime in 2016 with a price of around $200,000 to $300,000, Engadget reports. Given the increased restrictions on relatively small camera drones — the US government launched mandatory registrations— we’re guessing Ehang has a major uphill battle ahead of it if it hopes to see widespread use of the 184.
We believe the news below would be of interest to our readers.
It’s straight out of the classic Biblical tale, Noah’s Ark—when Noah deploys a dove from his vessel for a reconnaissance mission, post-flood. Except that the ark is a Royal Navy warship and the dove is a 3D-printed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
Last Tuesday, the HMS Mersey launched its Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft (SULSA), the world’s first 3D-printed UAV, off the coast of Dorset, England—an aerodynamic feat that could revolutionize the economics of aircraft design.
SULSA was printed using laser-sintered nylon and is capable of flying up to 58 mph in near-perfect silence. With a wingspan of 1.5 meters, the six and a half pound craft flew 500 meters into the Wyke Regis Training Facility before landing on Chesil Beach.
The UAV is the brainchild of Project Triangle, a University of Southampton research team that has been working on perfecting designs for a 3D-printed UAV since 2011. Engineers wanted to focus on how a simple, yet rugged UAV frame could be constructed at a low cost. (Although other ship-launched drones exist, they are larger and cost millions of dollars.)
The frame itself required no assembly. Accessory equipment, such as the automation system and on-board camera, were attached, post-print, using “snap fit” techniques so that the entire aircraft could be assembled quickly and without any tools.
3D printing also afforded engineers with considerable design flexibility. For example, laser sintering has allowed the team to inexpensively manufacture an elliptical wing platform, which is known to offer drag benefits.
SULSA’s successful flight has demonstrated how small, lightweight UAVs can be easily created, assembled, and launched at sea should necessity arise (for example, in the aftermath of a natural disaster—Biblical or otherwise).
4,000 pounds of fuel from a KC-707 tanker aircraft. This historic achievement followed last year’s equally revolutionary series of carrier launch and recovery operations by the X-47B.
You would think that the Navy, cognizant of the need to take advantage of the promise of robotics would be aggressively pushing to do further testing, to make unmanned carrier-based surveillance and strike aircraft real, and thus extend the reach and power of the aircraft carrier – the crown jewel of America’s conventional power projection forces. Instead, the Navy wants to decommission the two X-47Bs (named Salty Dog 501 and Salty Dog 502) and put them in museums, even though they have 80% of their approved flight hours left. Such an action flies in the face of the imperative to counter the most strategically troubling elements of the emerging set of anti-access/area-denial threats that Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and his team are aiming to offset.
The need to take advantage of unmanned and increasingly autonomous systems to preserve the aircraft carrier’s operational relevance in anticipated threat environments is obvious. America’s potential adversaries are rapidly investing in capabilities designed to limit the ability of U.S. military forces to gain access to, and operate within, vast areas of the air and maritime domains.
For instance, a recent report from the Office of Naval Intelligence, The PLA Navy: New Capabilities and Missions for the 21st Century (discussed in this War on the Rocks article) ably details China’s development and fielding of modern missile-armed strike aircraft and surface combatants, quieter submarines armed with advanced anti-ship cruise missiles and torpedoes, and land-based anti-ship ballistic missiles such as the DF-21D. And Moscow’s recent decision to supply Iran with the S-300 surface-to-air missile system is illustrative of the broader proliferation of increasingly capable integrated air defense systems that threaten to outmatch not only the F/A-18E/F but also the as-yet deployed F-35C.
Cognizant of these emerging threats, as far back as the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, Pentagon leaders directed the Navy to “develop an unmanned longer-range carrier-based aircraft capable of being air-refueled to provide greater standoff capability, to expand payload and launch options, and to increase naval reach and persistence.”
Last week’s demonstration of automated aerial refueling by an unmanned air system (UAS) was a critical component of proving that unmanned naval surveillance and strike operations are possible. While aviation buffs will emphasize its historical significance, astute strategists will zero in on the fact that the UAS in question – the Navy X-47B – is a prototype of a carrier-based, long-range surveillance-strike aircraft with the “broad-band/all-aspect” stealth design required for operating within air space defended by advanced integrated air defense systems. In combination, the X-47B’s successful carrier launch/recovery demonstration in 2013 and last week’s automated aerial refueling effectively prove that the system the Navy needs is technically feasible and within reach.
With aerial refueling, carrier-based UAS will be capable of conducting missions measured not in hours, but in days. For the first time in history, this would allow carrier-based aircraft to operate at intercontinental distances, enabling both rapid global responsiveness and the ability to stage persistent surveillance-strike operations from well outside most threats to the carrier.
While additional technology maturation and experimentation is surely needed before an advanced UAS can be fully integrated into carrier air wings, the Navy is at a strategic “tipping point” where a truly game-changing capability is within their grasp. The submarine-launched ballistic missile – which turned the Air Force’s nuclear “dyad” into the iconic Air Force-Navy triad that deterred the Soviets during the Cold War – is an apt analogue. Absent the submarine-launched ballistic missile, the Navy would have effectively ceded the critical strategic deterrence mission to the Air Force. Today is no different. Absent stealthy, air-refuelable, surveillance-strike UAS aboard its carriers, the Navy will invariably cede power projection – and thus the conventional deterrence mission – to the Air Force, which is developing a new stealth bomber and moving more aggressively on the UAS front.
Inexplicably, however, the Navy plans to end the Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) and permanently deactivate the two X-47B aircraft by sending them to museums – doing irreversible damage to them in the process – despite having utilized only a small fraction of their available flight hours. Owing to repeated Navy “de-scoping” of the UCAS-D program over the past several years, much work remains before the Navy is ready to acquire carrier-based UAS at acceptable technical risk. Given the roughly $1.5B invested in UCAS-D to date, and that more technology maturation and experimentation is clearly required, the obvious question is: Why stop now?
The answer from the Navy, and from the naval aviation enterprise in particular, has been that there are no cost effective solutions for continued UCLASS risk mitigation with UCAS-D, and that a penetrating, air-refuelable, surveillance-strike unmanned aircraft would be too expensive. Both arguments are fundamentally flawed.
First, there are, in fact, myriad executable options for continued work on UCAS-D that would not only mitigate technical risk for UCLASS, but also substantially enhance the Navy’s readiness to integrate an operational UAS into the carrier air wing. Key areas for future UCAS-D enabled risk reduction include carrier control-area operations, deck handling, aerial refueling, command and control, sensor and weapon integration, survivability, and fleet experimentation. The simple truth is that UCAS-D has only scratched the surface. While some have argued that continuing UCAS-D would create an un-level competitive playing field for UCLASS, it is hard to understand how requirements for “carrier suitability” set by the government in 2007 after a fair and open competition, and defined in detail in 2011, are now anti-competitive – especially when data collected during the program would be available to all contractors competing on UCLASS.
Under current Navy plans, moreover, the UCLASS program is merely a Technology Demonstration effort slated to begin in roughly FY17, with first flight of the “UCLASS-D” aircraft planned for no earlier than FY20. To state the obvious, it would be much less costly and risky to utilize a flight-proven system during the technology and risk reduction phase of the procurement process rather than develop an entirely new demonstration aircraft. This is true even if continued utilization of the X-47B air vehicles required sustained, low-level investment in hardware and software modifications necessary to address different aspects of yet-to-be-finalized UCLASS requirements. Conversely, the five-year gap in carrier-based UAS flight-testing, demonstration, and experimentation inherent in the Navy’s current approach would likely delay the fielding of an operational aircraft. In other words, the Navy’s current path to carrier-based UAS acquisition is guaranteed not only to cost more and take longer, but also to introduce an unnecessary level of risk in both cost and schedule.
Which brings us to the last argument that proponents of the current flawed approach are making inside the Pentagon: that a penetrating, air-refuelable, counter-anti-access/area denial UAS would be dramatically more expensive than the surveillance-focused “spotter” that the Navy currently prefers. For the latter, the Navy has specified a requirement of 14 hours of unrefueled endurance while carrying a sensor suite and at least 1,000 pounds of weapons internally in low-to-medium threat environments. Meeting that objective would require a large-wingspan aircraft with a roughly 45,000 to 65,000-pound gross takeoff weight. A carrier-based surveillance-strike aircraft with somewhat less unrefueled endurance (8-10 hours – still three to four times that of the F/A-18E/F), a higher cruise speed, significantly increased internal weapons payload (~4,000 pounds), and enhanced survivability (i.e., broadband, all-aspect radar cross section reduction) would likely be in the middle of that gross takeoff weight range. With unit cost correlating closely with gross takeoff weight, both aircraft would likely fall within a similar range for overall cost.
Ironically, affordability in the age of austerity is perhaps the strongest argument for acquiring a stealthy, air-refuelable, surveillance-strike UAS. Whereas the “spotter” UAS – designed expressly to support manned fighters – would represent a purely additive air wing cost, a surveillance-strike UAS could replace the F/A-18E/F in lieu of a manned “F/A-XX” in the late 2020s. The potential cost savings are staggering. Owing to the elimination of pilot training as a driver of carrier-based aircraft force size and flight hours, if the Navy acquired a UAS instead of another manned aircraft to replace the Super Hornet, it could procure roughly half the number of aircraft (or less) and fly them fewer hours per year. Based on in-depth analysis of historical carrier-based aircraft life-cycle cost data, a forthcoming report by the Center for a New American Security projects a 25-year savings mounting into the tens of billions. This is a strategic-level cost offset that would allow the Navy to invest in additional aircraft, ships, and submarines.
At a time when DoD needs to squeeze more capability out of reduced investment budgets to meet acute security challenges, a carrier-based UAS that transforms the carrier into a frontline global attack arm while dramatically reducing the overall cost of the air wing represents a historic opportunity. For the Navy to prematurely destroy the X-47B planes and forfeit the opportunity to reduce risk, experiment, and learn for the next five years constitutes strategic malpractice of the highest order.
At least Congress has taken notice, with Senator John McCain, Congressman Randy Forbes, and others urging the Navy to right its course and ensure America’s aircraft carriers and their air wings can deter and defeat future adversaries. We recommend Congress add funding to the FY2016 budget to keep the UCAS-D air vehicles flying while the Pentagon completes its reevaluation of final requirements for a future carrier-based UAS and it enters into development.
With Congressional leaders acting, it’s time for leaders in the Pentagon to do the same. Last year, the Office of the Secretary of Defense forestalled the Navy’s release of a flawed UCLASS request for proposals and launched a review to study UCLASS requirements in the context of the joint family of airborne surveillance and strike platforms. With the fate of UCAS-D in the balance, it is again time for the Pentagon’s civilian leaders to weigh in to keep the promise of carrier-based UAS operations alive. Secretary Carter, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus need to act before a historic opportunity is squandered. Pentagon officials like to talk about innovation, experimentation, and halting the erosion of America’s military-technological edge. It’s time for their rhetoric to translate into action.
Robert Martinage is Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Shawn Brimley is Executive Vice President at the Center for a New American Security. Both former Pentagon officials, they testified before the House Armed Services Committee on this issue in June 2014.
The United States said Tuesday that it will allow for the first time the export of armed drones to some allied countries.
Armed drones are a cornerstone of Washington’s military strategy against armed groups and militants in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
“The United States is the world’s technological leader in the development and deployment of military Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS, or drones),” the State Department said in a statement.
“As other nations begin to employ military UAS more regularly and as the nascent commercial UAS market emerges, the United States has a responsibility to ensure that sales, transfers, and subsequent use of all US-origin UAS are responsible and consistent with US national security and foreign policy interests, including economic security, as well as with US values and international standards.”
The statement did not say which countries would be customers, but several allies are eager to get their hands on the hardware, with The Washington Post citing Italy, Turkey and the Gulf.
So far, the United States has sold its armed drones only to close ally Britain, the newspaper said.
“The technology is here to stay,” a senior State Department official told the Post. “It’s to our benefit to have certain allies and partners equipped appropriately.”
Drones are hugely controversial with many campainging against their use, pointing to the devastating impact these weapons have on civilians.
The news below should be of interest to our readers.
Although drones seem to be in wide use elsewhere, the Federal Aviation Administrationis nervous about letting U.S. skies fill up with them, citing safety and privacy concerns. The FAA already fined a photographer $10,000 for taking commercial pictures of a university by drone. It was overturned in court, but the FAA is appealing the decision.
Meanwhile, real estate agents are having a field day, literally, flying drones over houses to show buyers a different perspective, ignoring the fact that this is against the law.
Amazon head Jeff Bezos says he foresees the day when an Amazon order is delivered in 30 minutes by drone. Up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s the “Divergent” series from Amazon. He has teamed up with three drone manufacturers to lobby for government permission.
Those less-than-reputable journalists who try to invade private weddings, bar mitzvahs and celebrity birthday parties would love to use drones anywhere they want to get pictures.
Film producers see great potential in using drones to get aerial shots with far less cost and risk.
Not so fast, say U. S. regulators, including the FAA and Department of Transportation. Congress wants regulations ready by September 2015. But nobody expects that deadline to be met.
Canada, Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom are far ahead of the U.S. in commercial drone use.
While American hobbyists fly drones (not near airports or higher than 400 feet), most Americans seem to be leery of weird unidentified objects buzzing over their heads.
This is a 86/2014 CNN story. The videos released by ISIS are appalling.
Yazidi men killed, women abducted
ISIS fighters swept into a Yazidi village in northern Iraq on Friday, killing at least 80 men and taking more than 100 women captive, officials told CNN. One Yazidi leader put the death toll much higher.
The report of the brutal attack on the village of Kojo comes a day after U.S. President Barack Obama — citing the success of targeted American airstrikes — declared an end to an ISIS siege that had trapped tens of thousands of Yazidis in mountains.
A Yazidi leader, Mirza Dinnayi, told British broadcaster Channel Four News that more than 350 men were killed and 1,000 women and children kidnapped during the raid. CNN cannot independently verify the death toll from the ISIS attack.
Fighters with ISIS attacked Kojo after surrounding it for days, a Kurdish regional government official and a Yazidi religious leader said. The women abducted from the village were being taken to the ISIS-controlled northern cities of Mosul and Tal Afar, the official said.
We saw this pop up a few times before and to be honest, we weren’t sure if it was actually real or not. This is the Advanced Tactics Black Knight Transformer — the world’s first VTOL (vertical take off and landing) aircraft that also doubles as an off-road vehicle.
Designed and built in California, it just received government approval and Advanced Tactics has released the first driving and flight test video. It was apparently designed as a rapid-response evacuation vehicle for wounded soldiers in war affected zones. It features a whopping eight individually driven rotors that swing out on “transforming” arms during flight. It also has a removable ground drive-train which can be swapped out for an amphibious boat hull, or even a cargo pod!
At the forefront of large-scale multicopter design and manufacturing, we looked around Advanced Tactic’s website a bit and found another one of their projects, the Transformer Panthers UAS — a miniature version of the Black Knight, designed as a small unmanned aircraft system that is also capable of land and sea use.
I’ve always thought that UAV technology was the invention of the end of the 20th century looking something like the video below.
How wrong I was!
I think our readers will find the information below quite interesting.
Austria was the first country to use unmanned aerial vehicles for combat purposes. In 1849, the Austrian military attached explosives to five large balloons and sent them to attack the city of Venice. Some of the balloons were blown off course, but others managed to hit targets within the city.
The concept of pilotless aerial combat units resurfaced during World War I when military scientists began building devices such as the Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane. This craft was essentially an airborne bomb and was controlled using gyroscopes. After witnessing the capabilities of the Automatic Airplane, the U.S. military began working on precursors to modern cruise missiles called aerial torpedoes. The first aerial torpedo was dubbed the Kettering Bomb. Developed in 1918, the Kettering Bomb could be guided by an onboard gyroscope toward targets located up to 75 miles from its launch point.
Aerial Torpedo attached to Aircraft
A British World War I veteran namedReginald Denny opened a model plane shop in Hollywood in 1934. Denny eventually began producing radio-controlled aircraft that could be used for training purposes by anti-aircraft gunners. The Army hired Denny and produced thousands of drones for use during World War II. The Navy also began producing radio-controlled aircraft around this time. In 1942, a Navy assault drone successfully hit an enemy destroyer with a torpedo.
After World War II, Reginald Denny’s company continued to build target drones for the U.S. military. The drones became increasingly advanced to keep up with manned combat aircraft. During the Cold War, some of these drones were converted for reconnaissance purposes. Based on the successful Ryan Firebee target drone model, the Ryan Model 147 Lightning Bug series of drones was used to spy on targets in China, Vietnam, and Korea in the 1960s and ’70s. The Soviet Union developed its own photo reconnaissance drones, although little is known about these devices. Drones were also used as decoys during combat operations.
Unmanned aircraft vehicles were largely seen as impractical, unreliable, and expensive until 1982 when Israel successfully used the devices against the Syrian Air Force. The Israeli Air Force used the drones for video reconnaissance, distractions, and electronic jamming of Syrian equipment. They were also used to destroy Syrian aircraft without risking the lives of Israeli pilots. The success of Israel’s UAV project convinced the United States military to start developing more unmanned aircraft. The U.S. now has a large fleet of UAVs used to deceive detection systems such as radar and sonar.
General Atomics Predator RQ-1L UAV
The General Atomics Predator RQ-1L UAV was used extensively during Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as operations in Afghanistan. The Predator was initially designed for reconnaissance purposes, but attaching Hellfire missiles and other weaponry made it an effective way to destroy enemy targets. Today, the military continues to improve UAVs with photovoltaic cells and other modern technology. Drones are also used domestically for surveillance, disaster relief, immigration control, and law enforcement.
It has been a no-good-very-bad week for drones. First an MQ-9 Reaper crashed on a training mission over Lake Ontario, and now the Navy is saying that a target drone helping the USS Chancellorsville slammed right back into it. Good grief.P
Target drones are regularly used to help calibrate and test weapons systems, because putting an actual guy in a plane while everyone aims at them and everyone hopes nobody sneezes is kind of unrealistic. That’s exactly what was going on off of Point Mugu in California when the drone went on the fritz and slammed right back into the US Navy cruiser, according to USA Today.
Two sailors are being treated for burns, which doesn’t make it sound like the thing exactly went plunk and bounced off the side.
The Chancellorsville is now headed back to San Diego for assessment of the damage and repairs.
While drones have been around more than 20 years now, they’re still relatively new technology and kinks are still being worked out.
It took them over two years to put this fine together after Trappy posted his video online. Not that it matters that much for him personally as he lives in Europe. He also has some footage online of NYC and the Statue of Liberty from his plane, which I would expect the FAA wouldn’t like as well.Stay safe…and don’t be famous for the wrong reasons.
the following from aero-news.net “The FAA has fined the pilot of an R/C airplane, which it classifies as a UAS, $10,000 for what the agency says is the reckless and careless operation of a Ritewing Zephyr powered glider aircraft in the vicinity of the University of Virginia (UVA), Charlottesville, Virginia. According to the FAA, the operator… whose name is Raphael Pirker but who is known as “Trappy” … was the pilot in command of the aircraft, and that he does not “possess a Federal Aviation Administration pilot certificate.” The Order of Assessment (Docket No. 2012EA210009) charges that Trappy operated the aircraft with a camera aboard that sent real-time video to the ground; that the flight was performed for compensation; and that he operated the aircraft at altitudes of approximately 10 feet to approximately 400 feet over the University of Virginia in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.” more here