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Reconnaissance

The CICADA is a gliding unmanned air vehicle, designed to deploy sensors in enemy territor...

When soldiers want to gather intelligence in enemy territory, they often have to travel into that territory themselves, depositing acoustic, magnetic, chemical/biological or signals intelligence sensors by hand. Not only does this place the soldiers in harm's way, but the logistics of such missions can also end up being quite costly. That's why the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Vehicle Research Section created the CICADA unmanned air vehicle (UAV). The tiny sensor-equipped glider was successfully tested at Arizona's Yuma Proving Grounds on September 1st.  Read More

U.S. deploys the Switchblade Kamikaze Drone

The Switchblade is a new form of miniature unmanned aerial system (UAS) which is man-packable and offers a loitering, silent, almost invisible, over-the-horizon aerial presence for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance duties. It also carries a warhead, so if a target of opportunity presents itself, the Switchblade has imaging sensors capable of identifying, tracking and guiding itself right to that person before exploding - with the aim of causing minimal collateral damage. The UAS is currently being readied for initial deployment by U.S.Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Read More

The Japanese Defense Ministry's flying sphere (Photo: DigInfo.tv)

Star Wars fans (like me) will get a vague sense of deja vu when they see this flying sphere in action. Weighing in at about 12 ounces (350 g), the 16-inch (42 mm) diameter flying ball can launch and return vertically, maintain a stationary hover and zip along at up to 37 mph (60 km/h). Coupled with the ball camera we reported on earlier this month, it could become a valuable reconnaissance platform. Who knows? In time, more advanced autonomous versions might actually be used to train would-be Jedi knights. Once again, life imitates art.  Read More

A Soldier throws a Recon Robotics Recon Scout Throwbot XT robot

Robots are a perfect tool to provide soldiers in the field with “eyes” on a potentially hazardous situation without placing themselves in harm’s way. With soldiers often operating in difficult terrain or entering buildings, the easiest way to get such robots into place is to throw them. Currently, many units use a small tactical robot called the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle 320 that is equipped with video reconnaissance technology. However, this robot weighs 32 pounds (14.5 kg) so the call has been put out for a lighter robot that is more easily transportable by dismounted units on the move and is able to be thrown into forward locations such as buildings and caves. To this end, the U.S. military is set to put three different types of lightweight, “throwable” robots through a series of combat assessments in Afghanistan.  Read More

AeroVironment has unveiled its latest Unmanned Aircraft System, the 'perch-and-stare' Shri...

California-based aerospace company AeroVironment has developed some fascinating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) over the years, including the High Altitude Long Endurance Global Observer, a hummingbird-like nano air vehicle, and the hand-launched Wasp III reconnaissance platform. In 2008, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded the company US$4.6 million in funding to develop a “perch-and-stare” aircraft, for use in military surveillance. Today, AeroVironment unveiled the result – the Shrike Vertical Take-off And Landing (VTOL) UAS.  Read More

Boeing has demonstrated swarm technology using two ScanEagles (pictured) and a Procerus Un...

Individually, insects have proven a deep well of inspiration for robotics engineers looking to mimic designs refined over millions of years of evolution. Now Boeing has demonstrated swarm technology for reconnaissance missions using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that is similar to the way insects communicate and work together as an intelligent group. Potential uses for the technology include search-and-rescue missions and identifying enemy threats ahead of ground patrols.  Read More

QinetiQ's DR10 is intended for military and first responder duties

QinetiQ North America has unveiled its latest Micro Unmanned Ground Vehicle (MUGV) based on its Dragon Runner platform. The new Dragon Runner 10 (DR10) is built around the basic Dragon Runner design and is intended for military and first responder duties. At just 15 inches (38 cm) long, 13.5 inches (34 cm) wide and 5.8 inches (15 cm) tall, and weighing just under 10 pounds (4.5 kg), the DR10 is small and light enough to be carried in a standard-issue pack and be thrown into buildings and hostile environments for reconnaissance and surveillance missions.  Read More

Lockheed Martin's HALE-D is launched

With the use of airships for passenger transport decreasing in the early 20th century as their capabilities were eclipsed by those of airplanes – coupled with a number of disasters – they were largely resigned to serving as floating billboards or as camera platforms for covering sporting events. But the ability to hover in one place for an extended period of time also makes them ideal for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance purposes, which is why Lockheed Martin has been developing its High Altitude Airship (HAA). The company yesterday launched the first-of-its-kind High Altitude Long Endurance-Demonstrator (HALE-D) to test a number of key technologies critical to development of unmanned airships.  Read More

The Datron Scout Micro Air Vehicle (MAV)

Younger owners of the Parrot AR.Drone will no doubt have discovered the advantages of such a device when gathering intelligence on siblings and parents. The Datron Scout Air Reconnaissance System shares a few similarities with the AR.Drone but, like the CyberQuad, is a quadricopter designed for slightly more critical missions. With a weatherproof design that allows it to capture and transmit high quality video in dusty and hot or cold conditions and winds of up to 50 km/h (31 mph), Datron says the scout is suited for a variety of military, law enforcement, fire and civilian applications.  Read More

The Firebird was designed to be flown either manned or unmanned

Although the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) such as Global Hawk and Raven for military information gathering has increased sharply in the last decade due to the maturation and miniaturization of enabling technologies, conventional piloted aircraft can still be a better option depending on the mission at hand. Northrop Grumman has unveiled a new intelligence gathering aircraft called the Firebird that falls into the category of an Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV) with its ability to be flown robotically or with a human pilot on board.  Read More

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