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A Drone Helicopter That Can Land On a Moving Truck

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the perfect-for-the-next-terminator-movie dept.

The Military 60

garymortimer writes with a story (the accompanying video is worth watching) of an unmanned helicopter than can automatically land on a moving surface. Though it's shown landing on a bed of a moving truck, the real purpose is for sea-based use: "This automatic system for take-off, landing and deck-landing of UAVs is the fruit of the joint expertise of Thales and DCNS. Thales is responsible for the positioning system and its interface with the UAV system, the supply of a UAV demonstrator system and slaving of the flight path along a trajectory. DCNS is responsible for predicting the vessel motions, the harpoon system as well as the interface and integration with the vessel."

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60 comments

I for one... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38122600)

welcome our new Drone overlords!

Re:This has nothing to do with IBM. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38122642)

No mention of IBM, why is this here.

Re:I for one... (1)

loustic (1577303) | more than 2 years ago | (#38122936)

The best is that you can control the Little Bird from the Apache. Add an other aicraft and the path is for Endless Possibilities is open !

perspective (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38122650)

http://xkcd.com/652/

"We live in a world where there are actual fleets of robot assassins patrolling the skies. At some point there, we left the present and entered the future."

Re:perspective (3, Insightful)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123022)

"...At some point there, we left the present and entered the future."

"The future is already here -- it's just not evenly distributed."

Re:perspective (0)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125600)

"The future is already here -- it's just not evenly distributed."

And never will be as long as the Leninists and the Libertarians are in charge.

More war (4, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38122678)

So I watched that video [youtube.com], what can I say, I liked that trailer.

This video explains about the robot helicopter [youtube.com] and what it's really for in the first 22 seconds.

At 1:20 they explain that this helicopter started as a commercial aircraft, but later was adopted for 'special operations'.

As I said, it's a war based economy/ [slashdot.org]

This is again, Boeing. Biggest bombs [slashdot.org] and robot killer helicopters.

Great economy you are having there. Glad to see you care about your environment and air and all that 'welfare'. Too bad the outcome of all this wonderful 'care' is a war economy. But ask yourselves this: once they have enough robots to kill people all around the world, why do they need you at all? You don't produce anything else and all the weapons they need they will have automated. I guess your purpose is to burn oil and their's is to make sure they get more power and weapons so you can burn more oil.

Re:More war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38122766)

Just like the drug addict to the drug dealer.

Re:More war (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38122776)

You are just jealous that the US's war-based economy is better than your war-based economy (given your user name, I'm assuming you are Russian). US military expenditure is 4.7% GDP; Russia's is 4.4%.

once they have enough robots to kill people all around the world, why do they need you at all?

The US has enough bombs to blow up the world already, what makes you think having robots will change anything?

Re:More war (4, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#38122886)

The US has enough bombs to blow up the world already, what makes you think having robots will change anything?

I'm not sure what it's like in the US, but over here in AU it makes the news when one of our soldiers dies overseas, or even when one gets hurt, and then again when their bodies arrive back home. Too many nationals (eg more than 0) getting killed makes war unpopular. The press only tags along because there are soldiers there, and we don't really hear about any of the "enemy" getting killed anyway. If it was all robots on the front line then war wouldn't seem so unpopular to the average viewer... hell it would almost seem like a sport with appropriately mounted cameras and is probably less graphically violent than most video games/movies.

Having robots on the front line could change everything.

Re:More war (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38122966)

I'm not sure what it's like in the AU, but over here on Cybertron it makes the news when one of our robots dies extraplanetarily, or even when one gets hurt, and then again when their chassis arrive back home. Too many mechanoids (eg more than 0) getting killed makes war unpopular. The press only tags along because reality TV is popular there, and we don't really hear about any of the "organics" getting killed anyway. If it was all meat-sacks on the front line then war wouldn't seem so unpopular to the average viewer... hell it would almost seem like a sport with appropriately mounted cameras and is probably less graphically violent than most recycling plants/junk yards.

Having pain-slaves on the front line could change everything.

Re:More war (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123872)

Having robots on the front line could change everything.

Yeah, like opening you up for war crimes and really horrible mistakes.

Someone piloting this thing from hundreds (if not thousands) of miles away, or a completely automated device, brings with it the possibility to really screw up. Hell, from the sounds of it, the automated drones are already inflicting more civilian casualties than they should be ... they don't sound like they're being used judiciously enough to prevent it. It would seem that Pakistan can attest to that fact.

At the very least, I don't think we want war to "seem like a sport" ... it's serious business, for high stakes. It's not some game. I'm all for saving lives, but automated warfare is something which gives one pause for concern. If you make it too arm's length, you risk losing sight of what you're doing ... if it's just a game, why not strafe that schoolyard for the hell of it?

Having your people get killed has always been "unpopular" ... it's not supposed to be "popular", but it might be a necessary thing to protect others.

And, for the record, pretty much every Canadian who has been killed overseas gets news coverage and attention. No country likes to bring home dead soldiers ... but I don't know that I'm entirely cool with the "kill 'em all and let God sort it out" approach that seems to be happening with some of these automated drones. Way too many civilians are ending up as "collateral damage".

Re:More war (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123868)

Well, I was born in USSR but I haven't lived in it since the 93 I think. Where I am now... certainly not living in the former Soviet block. So that's a stupid non-starter argument.

Re:More war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38122850)

Watch the second video it's much more informative.

That chopper has been arround since the 60's

It's real asset is that it can be piloted from an apache, war economy or not. And it can be either a UAV or manned or any combination.

It's an AH-6X Little bird UAV.

Re:More war (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125746)

Or manned? Rescue missions flown remotely? That would make a huge difference here in the Pacific Northwest (especially after we had that Blackbird roll down Mt. Hood).

Re:More war (2)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 2 years ago | (#38122942)

At 1:20 they explain that this helicopter started as a commercial aircraft, but later was adopted for 'special operations'.

When I saw "harpoon system" mentioned in the summary my first thought was Japanese whaling. I could see these used as automated hunter/killer craft for the Japanese "research" whaling fleet. I doubt that's the special op you're talking about. :-)

Re:More war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38124040)

I was unable to find the context for where you saw Harpoon. However, given the naval usage mentioned earlier it may be of interest to note that the Harpoon (AGM-54/RGM-54) is the standard US (NATO?) anti-ship missile system. It can be launched from ships, submarines, and aircraft.

Re:More war (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 2 years ago | (#38134602)

From the article summary:

"This automatic system for take-off, landing and deck-landing of UAVs is the fruit of the joint expertise of Thales and DCNS. Thales is responsible for the positioning system and its interface with the UAV system, the supply of a UAV demonstrator system and slaving of the flight path along a trajectory. DCNS is responsible for predicting the vessel motions, the harpoon system as well as the interface and integration with the vessel."

Re:More war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38125646)

Or a hunter-killer of Japanese whale-hunter ships.

Re:More war (0)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123024)

why do they need you at all?

I'm pretty sure that whichever hellhole you happen to be from, your government wants to buy some of these UAVs from us. And if not your government, then your bankers want some for crowd control.

Come See the Violence Inherent in the System (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124390)

Too bad the outcome of all this wonderful 'care' is a war economy.

Well, of course it is - we're talking about a governmental system based on a monopoly on violence. So, shocker, they focus on being the best at violence.

That's why these people jumping up and down to start an armed revolution are barking up the wrong tree. Who says, "if only Martin Luther King had gouged a few peoples' eyes out, he would have done better"?

Here's a private UAV used for intelligence [youtube.com] against the violence types. Much more effective than using it to drop a bomb on them. Also, funny how the police seem to assume it must be one of theirs.

Re:Come See the Violence Inherent in the System (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 2 years ago | (#38125770)

"a governmental system based on a monopoly on violence."

Since when? Their monopoly isn't very effective.

Re:More war (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124508)

Great economy you are having there. Glad to see you care about your environment and air and all that 'welfare'. Too bad the outcome of all this wonderful 'care' is a war economy. But ask yourselves this: once they have enough robots to kill people all around the world, why do they need you at all? You don't produce anything else and all the weapons they need they will have automated. I guess your purpose is to burn oil and their's is to make sure they get more power and weapons so you can burn more oil.

"You don't know what it's like to really create something; to create a life; to feel it growing inside you."

Re:More war (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124594)

A war economy is different from a normal economy where weapons are just small part of it, so you can't peg this Terminator bullshit on me.

So what... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38122762)

We at Higheye b.v. did the exact same thing with DCNS years ago..
at sea...
on a moving barge...
and our HE80 VTOL UAV.

The test was largely successful even under rougher than expected sea, yes this was in international water by the coast of France.
If you are looking for the website we are dutch.

EJ Goeree
Former Chief Engineer
Higheye b.v.

Re:So what... (0)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38122896)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmJi6fZikDw [youtube.com]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LG5c-zGWLCo [youtube.com]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jk3HRrMhrjw&feature=related [youtube.com]

People have been doing this for a long time. You'll notice that they are conducted at speed, in some awfully rough sea conditions, on small targets. We don't just land those things on aircraft carriers and troop ships. That last scene, of a helicopter landing aboard a destroyer is the scene that I'm most familiar with. Sometimes, you can feel the landing throughout the ship. The pilot gets his timing just the tiniest bit off - not enough to be catastrophic, just the tiniest bit off - and those few tons of aircraft just SLAM into the deck.

Re:So what... (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38122900)

Do you think it would be significantly more challenging with a bigger vehicle like this Boeing Helo, or is it basically the same problem?

Re:So what... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38122986)

The difference is speed, a light and fast helicopter can land in heavier seas than a heavy and sluggish one.
But a light helicopter will get blown away in a storm so depending on the wind conditions one will land easier than the other.
In both cases the problem with the autopilot doing the landing is the predictability of the waves.

So the problems are the same only the consequences are much bigger for the heavy helicopter.

Impressive (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38122768)

Impressive but still by far not as good as an experienced human pilot.

Re:Impressive (4, Informative)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38122804)

Impressive but still by far not as good as an experienced human pilot.

Humans have annoying requirements like food, water, and sleep. You can't build experienced human pilots in a factory. Machines are easiler to replace and don't mind if you send them on suicide missions.

Re:Impressive (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123244)

You also forget experience, those minor incremental improvements. In humans a trainer passes only a very small percentage of that knowledge to a trainee, but with machines, it's as simple as "version += 1"
And unlike humans, while you may have a few pilots, maybe hundreds in a very large airforce, getting there takes a lot of time. Replacing even one of those people is expensive and time consuming compared to installing some software.

Ships, planes, cars, tanks were initially built for their user, the human part. If you removed it from the start, sound barrier would have been broken earlier, space age would have started sooner, and so on.

Look at space probes, you don't need people inside, the software can do what humans did, but better and constantly. You don't need to add room for the crew, supplies or additional systems, or more importantly research new technologies.

In terms of mechanized weapons, what's the next step? A jet that constantly moves and attacks at mach 3? Oh wait, we have those, they're called missiles, maybe they could shrink them a lot and you get smart bullets? Given the level of miniaturization technology has reached for quite some time, I really wouldn't be surprised if they already exist but simply aren't public knowledge ...

Still, human labour is cheap and getting cheaper my the minute.

BULL. FUCKING. SHIT. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38124368)

Humans have requirements, but not man.

I eat what I kill, and so does my wife.

(Pakistan banned 1600 phrases, so my wife helps me "Kill the President" and she eats him too. I'll be eating her "Scrambled Egg" as well.)

Re:Impressive (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38122904)

why do you say that? What makes it "not as good"?

Re:Impressive (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123000)

Difficult to describe. There seems to be some lag when it tries to interpolate the future position of the moving truck, or something like that, at 0:35 in the first video. The heli is floating too long above the target and backwards relative to it. A good pilot (trained in doing this) will match the speed before reaching the target and then land "less tentatively" on the spot, like you would land on the ground. To be fair, I was assuming that the truck kept very constant speed, though. If it has changed speed at around 0:35, I'd say a human wouldn't do much better. They should display the target's speed in the movies.

Anyway, I'm not an expert, just a flight simmer. Real pilots please correct me if I'm wrong.

Aircraft carrier at sea (2)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38122822)

I wonder how well this the system deals with a ships movement at sea. I don't know how much an aircraft carrier pitches and rolls. But having looked at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPqXlqam2Z8 [youtube.com] a Supertanker in a storm. The hugest biggest boats get smashed about at sea. Not saying you'd fly in weather like that. I'm just wondering at what point the system can't cope as they can't simulate that movement with a truck.

Re:Aircraft carrier at sea (3, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38122870)

The article says they will test with a frigate. That means lots of movement - they are much, much smaller than a CV. But I don't doubt it is doable. They just need to get in close enough to get hooked into the winch that can take it in and hold it down.

Re:Aircraft carrier at sea (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38122952)

+1 Thanks for that, didn't know about hooking it with a winch.

Re:Aircraft carrier at sea (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38122994)

Here's a short description [helicoptersmagazine.com] of how the Canadians do it. I worked on a CVN myself, so I've never been personally involved in recovering helos on a small deck. I did spend a couple weeks on an FFG and looked over the equipment but we never used it while I was aboard.

Re:Aircraft carrier at sea (1)

yurtinus (1590157) | more than 2 years ago | (#38131276)

Ship based automated (hands-off) landings have been done since the late 50s on US Navy carriers with fixed wing aircraft. Ship based UAV helicopters have been deployed for the last year or two (MQ-8 Firescout on Frigate class ships). Ship motion is pretty well understood, as is ship motion compensation.

Nice start (2)

pease1 (134187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38122892)

Now show this with the truck moving vertically 6-10 feet every few seconds, with 15-30 knot winds that change 10-30 degrees every minute, and hundreds/thousands of pounds of sea spray hitting the side of the helo. Was in a bird that landed in these conditions. Another time, we aborted in worse conditions and had to find a bigger deck.

Re:Nice start (5, Interesting)

RicktheBrick (588466) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123046)

1. Attach cable from ship to the helicopter. 2. Helicopter goes to full throttle. 3. Make cable as taut as possible. 4. Pull the helicopter down onto the deck. Under these conditions if the deck suddenly rises up a couple of feet the helicopter will respond by rising up a couple of feet too. This is how the US Navy does it today.

Re:Nice start (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38154230)

It's been done by the company I work for. Can't say who, where, or when yet though. This truck things is child's play compared to what is being done but can't be shared with the public.

PROOF that these are for domestic use! (0)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38122912)

I mean really, where else in the world do they use moving trucks as frequently as they're used in the US? With as often as we buy (or, now, get kicked out of) houses, I bet we have three or four times as many moving trucks per capita as anywhere else. And now there's a DRONE specifically DESIGNED to land on them!

Wake up sheeple its 1984!!

Re:PROOF that these are for domestic use! (1)

Arrepiadd (688829) | more than 2 years ago | (#38123120)

You mean you didn't even read the summary?!

Slashdot can only become a better place when some people stop reaching for the "Post" button...

Re:PROOF that these are for domestic use! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38125092)

Can someone explain to me why everyone is talking about the US in this thread ?
It's a joint project between Thales and DCNS so it's definitively a totally french project.

Its been done... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123472)

NATO had just about perfected this for ship board UAV landings of VTOL devices in the early 2000s... here's a whitepaper on the strategy, I know folks who actually worked on the final prototypes... so yah landing on a ship in stormy seas... its been done, just not by civilians.

http://ftp.rta.nato.int/public//PubFullText/RTO/MP/RTO-MP-015///$MP-015-11.PDF

Cyberdyne Systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38123476)

and the system became self-aware...

Noise level? (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | more than 2 years ago | (#38124682)

Just wondering, what is the noise level of this craft projected at approx 300 yards. For about a year when I would come home from work (late evening) there would be a craft (couldn't hear any noise from it) that would hover above a field (100ft) near my house that had one light on it. After some time of seeing this thing over and over again I got tired of just accepting it and decided to play with it (I was starting to think I was crazy). So I stopped on the road one night and just waited; after sitting there for a minute, confident that they had noticed me, I flipped off my headlights and waited some more. With my headlights off I started driving and they matched my speed and direction. Now I sure that the craft was there and someone was directing I was somewhat satisfied that I wasn't crazy and went on with my life. I haven't seen it for years now but it was there many times hovering over an obscure field in the middle of Ohio farm country. I guess it could have been a drone but it leaves many things unexplained and I'm still curious about its origin. I do live near a GE test facility that isn't too far away.

Re:Noise level? (1)

Forbman (794277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126008)

could have been someone (some local cop jurisdiction?) was using a MD500 with NOTAR. Those helicopters are VERY quiet.

Re:Noise level? (2)

PhloppyPhallus (250291) | more than 2 years ago | (#38126028)

Noise is strongly dependent on the flight condition of the helicopter and the orientation of the helicopter with respect to the observers; there's no simple answer for noise levels at some fixed distance, unfortunately. UAV are generally quieter because they're smaller and lighter and because the smaller rotor needs to operate at a higher RPM and hence higher blade passing frequency; this drives the frequencies of noise up where they are more readily absorbed by the atmosphere (albeit, they are also more annoying!)

As for your helicopter encounter, if you were in a rural area with farmland, it was quiet likely an agricultural helicopter. Helicopters are commonly used for spraying, since they're maneuverably enough to get into small fields and the rotor wash helps disperse the chemicals better than fixed wing dusters. I'm not sure they do it in Ohio, but helicopters are also sometimes used in citrus growing areas around the time when the first frosts start to set in. The helicopter operators will contract out with farmers to set up temperature monitoring stations on the ground; when it approaches freezing the stations light up a beacon. The pilots will fly out at night, when there;'s usually a temperature inversion and hover over the lit beacons, using the rotor as a large fan to draw warmer air from higher up down into the orchard until the ground temperature raises and the beacon shuts off. Surprisingly, it's quite effective although I've heard it's becoming less common in recent years due to changes in weather and rising fuel costs. Could it have been some UAV helicopter? Not impossible, but not likely--operation is highly restrict for civil applications, especially at night. The military has plenty of places to fly these things on government property where a crash won't put civilians at risk. I've been involved in some research flight tests of manned helicopter on private property, but we'd never fly at night and Ohio doesn't have the best weather for flight testing anyway.

Re:Noise level? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38143068)

Also keep in mind that a lot of modern helicopters now have main rotor blades with forward swept tips. (And a lot of older ones get retrofitted during a maintenance activity.) It's surprising how much that little change does in relation to main rotor noise, because it affects how rotor-tip vortices form and reduces how much they interact with the other blades. There's a very significant difference in noise between a UH-1 with an older blade design and something like a UH-60 or MH-6 with the modern rotors. (The original MH-6 wasn't loud to begin with, so the ones with the updated rotors can get almost right on you now.) The remaining noise from gas turbine engines usually isn't that much.

As far as "weird" helicopters (usually Bell 206, S-70, or MD500), I've seen support activity for them near an airport's Immigration Customs Enforcement office. Most likely ICE is doing the DEA stuff under their mission statement as outlined on their website. In other words, when they're flying around funny they're looking for plants that almost everybody thinks should be legalized by now. However, I'm still curious what FAA clause allows them fly with no tail or fuselage numbers. It's the avaition equivalent to police being allowed to operate unmarked cars with no license plates. (To be honest, I think that's the one thing that gets them a lot of attention from the people that do notice them. If they had normal aircraft markings, nobody would be wondering wtf they're doing.)

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