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Unmanned


— Military

Unmanned helicopter and ground vehicle team up to explore dangerous terrain

Autonomous aircraft and autonomous ground vehicles can eliminate much of the danger for military personnel working in hazardous areas. But what if they could combine their capabilities to even further remove soldiers from harm's way? Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) together with Sikorsky Aircraft have deployed an autonomous helicopter and all-terrain robot to demonstrate what might be possible when advanced, unmanned vehicles join forces.

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— Aircraft

AirMule VTOL flies untethered for the first time

Helicopters may be able to take off and land from places that fixed-wing airplanes can't, but those whirling exposed rotor blades still keep them out of tight spaces. That's why Israel's Tactical Robotics Ltd created the AirMule. It's an unmanned VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft, which features lift rotors that are safely enclosed inside its body. Although we first heard about it two years ago, the prototype just recently made its first untethered test flight.

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— Drones

Watchkeeper becomes first UAS to fly with commercial aircraft in UK civil airspace

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.

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— Military

X-47B completes first ever unmanned refueling exercise

The US Navy's X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) aircraft has gone out on a high note (and added yet another acronym to the military lexicon) by conducting the first ever Autonomous Aerial Refueling (AAR) exercise. The autonomous aircraft rendezvoused with an Omega K-707 tanker plane off the coast of Maryland and Virginia, successfully taking on 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) of jet fuel as it completed the project's final test objective. Read More
— Drones

3D Robotics gets Solo "smart drone" off the ground

3D Robotics, the company that grew out of the popular DIY drones website and the imagination of Wired Magazine Editor Chris Anderson, has announced a new consumer level quadcopter drone called the Solo. Touting its latest creation as "a breakthrough in intelligent flight," 3DR's new drone leans away from 3DR’s roots in hobbyist, DIY UAV flying in favor of a a slick, packaged, all-in-one consumer-oriented system that works right out of the box with a minimum of fuss. Read More
— Space

SpaceX Falcon 9 makes landing on drone barge ... then tips over

Elon Musk's goal of achieving the first powered landing of a reusable booster had a close brush with success today as a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket narrowly failed to survive a touchdown on the deck of a drone barge off the US east coast. The third landing attempt by the company came after the launch of the CRS-6 mission, which sent an unmanned Dragon cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station. Read More
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