Drone technology sure is moving fast. So fast, in fact, that French hardware company Parrot has already felt compelled to launch a follow up to last year's popular Bepop drone. The Bepop 2 retains the light weight and camera of the original, but can fly faster and longer with a flight time of 25 minutes, landing it in the same territory as leading consumer drones on the market.
3D printing just hit another benchmark, with the recent announcement by Aurora Flight Sciences and Stratasys Ltd that they have developed a 3D-printed, jet-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with the ability to reach speeds of up to 150 mph (241 km/h). Unveiled at this week’s Dubai Airshow, it is reportedly the largest and most complex UAV ever created using 3D printing.
One of the problems with consumer drones is that unless you're using them to shoot video, they can actually get kind of boring after a while. Flying them pointlessly up and down and back and forth only stays interesting for so long. That's why a group of Slovakian entrepreneurs have created Drone n Base. It lets drone pilots race one another, engage in aerial dogfights, or play games like capture the flag.
A team at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is developing a new drone that could be used to prevent wildfires by igniting and monitoring controlled burns remotely. The drone could be cheaper and safer than existing practices while also being able to operate in more harsh, rugged environments.
The US Department of Transportation (USDoT) Secretary Anthony Foxx announced today that drones in the United States will soon require federal registration. As part of this effort, Secretary Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta are putting together a task force made up representatives from the government, along with the UAS and manned aviation industries to provide recommendations on how to best implement a registration process.
A world where unmanned aircraft soar alongside their manned counterparts mightn't be all that far away, with UK defence firm Thales recently flying its Watchkeeper drone in civil airspace for the first time. The test run has been labeled a success, with operators saying it brings the UK one step closer to using unmanned aircraft for various applications, including security missions and border patrol.
There's recently been a run of new anti-drone systems introduced to deal with potential threats from UAVs, but these have been on the large and expensive side. To provide an affordable alternatives to plug the gap between shotguns and truck-mounted systems, national security research and development firm Battelle is introducing DroneDefender. Billed as the first portable, accurate, rapid-to-use UAV counter-weapon, it's a rifle-like raygun device that uses a radio beam to jam drone control systems and stop them in midair.
Two years ago, DARPA started developing self-destructing electronics as a way to prevent advanced military gear falling into the wrong hands. Now the agency is expanding on the idea with its Inbound, Controlled, Air-Releasable, Unrecoverable Systems (ICARUS) program, which is tasked with developing small, unmanned, single-use, unpowered air vehicles that can can be dropped from an aircraft to deliver supplies to isolated locations in the event of disasters, then evaporate into thin air once their job is done.
While civilian countermeasures to combat malicious drones is moving toward UAV-freezing radio beams, the US Army is taking a more permanent approach. Under development by the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, the Enhanced Area Protection and Survivability (EAPS) system used steerable 50 mm smart rounds to shoot down two drones in recent tests.
Sophisticated, easy to fly drones are everywhere these days and like most new technologies, they have the potential for mischievous or malicious applications as well as positive ones. It follows that there's an increasing demand for improved surveillance and countermeasures specifically tailored for this type of aircraft. Billed as the world's first fully integrated system designed to detect, track and disrupt small and large drones, the Anti-UAV Defence System (AUDS) from Blighter Surveillance Systems uses radio beams to freeze drones in midair by interfering with their control channels.