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Reconnaissance

Artist's concept of the HammerHead UAV on a mission (Photo: Piaggio)

There was an unusual shape in the skies over Italy last week as the Piaggio Aero Company and Selex ES successfully completed the first flight of the aptly-named Hammerhead UAV on Thursday, November 14, near the Trapini Air Force Base. The aircraft was remotely controlled from the ground, with no crew on board, while two chase planes kept the UAV in sight during the flight.  Read More

Artist's concept of the SR-72 (Image: Lockheed Martin)

When the last SR-71 Blackbird was grounded in 1998 it was a double blow. Not only did aviation lose one of the most advanced aircraft ever built, but also one of the most beautiful. Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works has now revealed that it is building a successor to the Blackbird: the SR-72. Using a new hypersonic engine design that combines turbines and ramjets, the company says that the unmanned SR-72 will be twice as fast as its predecessor with a cruising speed of Mach 6.  Read More

This UAV competes in Eurathlon, a mock disaster-response competition for robots

Roboticists are competing in Europe this week to prove their superiority at bomb disposal and other dangerous tasks, but the teams are not comprised of military or emergency response personnel. Instead, unmanned autonomous vehicles and their human operators have gathered in Berchtesgaden, Germany at the first ever Eurathlon, a competition and convention designed to push innovation in smart robots that perform tasks that are too risky for humans.  Read More

Squito is a throwable ball camera prototype enabling panoramic views to be captured every ...

It's already possible to take aerial shots using your smartphone, but doing so means throwing your expensive piece of kit into the air and hoping you're a good catch. What's really needed is a standalone device that can be launched skywards to capture panoramic views. Enter Squito, a prototype throwable camera ball capable of producing stabilized 360-degree images and video that could prove useful in several different fields.  Read More

The Triton making its first flight (Photo: US Navy)

It’s been a busy month for UAVs with some launching from aircraft carriers and others saving lives. Now, the US Navy’s latest unmanned Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft, the MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System, has taken to the skies. This Wednesday, the 47.6-foot (14.5-m) aircraft, powered by a Rolls-Royce AE 3007 turbofan engine, took off from Palmdale, California. It was under the control of Navy and Northrop Grumman personnel, as part of a series of tests to certify the system for fleet operations.  Read More

Researchers have been able to non-invasively control the walking paths of red-eared slider...

Last year, much to the delight of squeamish people everywhere, scientists were successfully able to remotely control the paths traveled by live cockroaches. They did so by wirelessly stimulating the insects’ antennae and cerci sensory organs. Now, a group of scientists from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have reported success in controlling the paths of walking turtles. Fortunately for the reptiles, the KAIST researchers’ methods were considerably less invasive than those used on the cockroaches.  Read More

Boeing's liquid hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system on its second flight...

Earlier this week, Boeing’s liquid hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye demonstrator successfully completed its second flight. While still well short of the four day flight time and 65,000 foot altitude Boeing says the aircraft is capable of, the second flight is a step in the right direction from the Phantom Eye's first flight that ended – not quite as successfully – on June 1, 2012.  Read More

Boeing's Phantom Eye atop its launch cart during taxi testing this week (Photo: Carla Thom...

Following the first flight of its Phantom Eye in June of last year, Boeing has performed software and hardware upgrades in preparation for its second flight that will see it climb to higher altitudes. This week, the hydrogen-powered unmanned aircraft system made a significant step towards such a second flight with the completion of taxi testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.  Read More

CyPhy Works' EASE UAV gets its power via a 'microfilament' cable

Endurance is one of the biggest limiting factors of UAVs. To stay airborne longer, Boeing has turned to hydrogen to fuel its Phantom Eye, Qinetiq’s Zephyr relies on solar power and Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk can refuel autonomously in mid-air. But CyPhy Works has taken a different approach with its first UAVs. By connecting to a ground-based power source via a “microfilament,” the UAVs are able to stay aloft indefinitely.  Read More

A prototype of the reconnaissance ball

First responders such as firefighters or police officers are often faced with a difficult situation – they need to get into a building as fast as possible, yet it’s unsafe for them to just blindly run in without knowing what hazards await them. Some groups are attempting to address this problem by designing reconnaissance robots, although such devices can be expensive and/or complex. Boston-based Bounce Imaging, however, is putting the finishing touches on something a little more simple to use – a throwable smart ball.  Read More

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