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Unmanned

The first night-time flight of the Morpheus lander (Image: NASA)

Spacecraft lifting off at night are a beautiful sight, but equally impressive is when one lands in the dark under its own power. NASA’s robotic Morpheus prototype planetary lander did both of those in its first night-time free flight at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which included an autonomous landing in an artificial lunar landscape.  Read More

An artist's impression of Venus Express (Image: ESA)

After eight years of study of the second planet in our Solar System, ESA’s Venus Express orbiter is winding up its science program in anticipation of a plunge into the Venusian atmosphere sometime in the next two months.  Read More

The Sea-Eye features a design that enables it to keep work when tipped over (Photo: UniMAP...

Bad weather can play havoc with unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) patrolling the seas, which is why scientists at the Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) have come up with a USV prototype that works even when it tips over. Called Sea-Eye, the battery-powered vehicle features a design that enables it to work just as well upside down as right way up.  Read More

The Vector Hawk has joined Lockheed Martin's small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) family

Lockheed Martin has expanded its small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) family with the introduction of the Vector Hawk. Coming in a number of variants, Lockheed says the aircraft is suitable for a wide variety of different missions thanks to its ability to be rapidly reconfigured in the field.  Read More

The loss of the Nereus submersible represents a significant loss to the scientific communi...

One of the scientific community's flagship unmanned research submarines, used for deep-sea exploration, has been declared lost as of 2 pm (New Zealand Standard Time), May 10. It was in use by researchers aboard the scientific research vessel, the Thomas G.  Read More

The Rotary-Bat (R-Bat) unmanned helicopter system conducts a flight test from Yuma Proving...

Northrop Grumman and Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA, are teaming up to develop a small, unmanned autonomous helicopter system. The Rotary-Bat (R-Bat) is aimed at a range of applications in both urban and rural areas, including search and rescue, power line inspection, border patrol and forest fire observation.  Read More

The X-47B, shown here on its first night flight in April, is set to begin its next round o...

The US Navy is preparing to conduct a series of test activities with the aim of nailing down air standard operating procedures for air traffic control and ground support designed to allow the X-47B unmanned aircraft to operate alongside manned aircraft, both in the air and on the deck of a flight carrier.  Read More

Artist's impression of ISEE-3 on a lunar flyby (Image: NASA)

Putting classic cars on the road or classic boats on the water isn’t that odd, but what about putting a classic spacecraft back into service? The ISEE-3 Reboot Project is a crowdfunding effort aimed at reactivating a comet-chasing space probe launched in the 1970s. Using a radio telescope and a software emulator of the original control equipment to contact and reactivate the hibernating unmanned probe, the hope is to use the International Sun/Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3) to conduct a privately funded mission to fly by a comet.  Read More

The Arcturus Jump system is designed to give UAVs VTOL capability without the weight penal...

Fixed-wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles have a lot of advantages over manned aircraft, but much of that is lost when they get too big to be launched by hand and start needing runways and catapults to get aloft. Vertical Takeoff and Landing systems seem like an obvious alternative, but the extra weight of these systems can limit the advantages they offer. Arcturus UAV in Northern California unveiled its solution this week with its Jump VTOL system. Using self-contained electric lift motors, this add-on system is designed to provide tactical UAVs with VTOL capabilities without the usual penalties of payload and range.  Read More

The Optionally Piloted Black Hawk (OPBH) Demonstrator program aims at developing aircraft ...

While autonomous aircraft are now a well established part of military operations, there are some areas where “pilot optional” is still very much synonymous with “cutting edge.” Case in point is Optionally Piloted Black Hawk (OPBH) Demonstrator developed by the Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. In cooperation with the US Army, Sikorsky demonstrated the helicopter's capabilities for the first time in an autonomous cargo delivery exercise on March 11 at Sikorsky’s Development Flight Center.  Read More

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