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AT Black Knight Transformer Hits the Road and Takes a Hop

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the best-toys-are-always-someone-else's dept.

The Military 33

Zothecula (1870348) writes "Following on from driving tests that wound up in December last year, the Black Knight Transformer prototype demonstrator has taken to the air for the first time. California-based Advanced Tactics, Inc., announced its vehicle, which combines the capabilities of a helicopter and an off-road vehicle, completed its first flight tests last month, being remotely piloted at an undisclosed location in Southern California."

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33 comments

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oh... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46732281)

Interesting...
http://de.mon.st/RyEq2/

Suddenly Southern California ... (0)

Bob_Who (926234) | about 4 months ago | (#46732299)

....is no longer an undisclosed location.

And everyone knows Batman works in Gotham City. Duh.

Re:Suddenly Southern California ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46732403)

California is pretty huge. Go ahead and try finding it.

Re:Suddenly Southern California ... (1)

puddles (147314) | about 4 months ago | (#46735557)

Well, knowing that it's Southern California narrows it down to a few deserts: Death Valley, Anza Borrego, Mojave or somewhere in the Hungry Valley region. OK, each of those is still pretty huge but you've ruled out other deserts in the US.

The terrain doesn't look like Death Valley. Advanced Tactics being based in El Segundo ... I bet they just hopped on to the 405 and went south to Anza Borrego.

That's just a guess :-)

Fragile (1)

invictusvoyd (3546069) | about 4 months ago | (#46732327)

Special ops? those engines/motors couldnt take a 7.62x39 mm bullet (popular militia / rebel round) . The whole crate would come crashing down . Add armour , the weight will be too much for sustained flight .. Looks very nice but IMO it's got a long way to go before it gets practical.

Re:Fragile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46732347)

"crate" is exactly what I was thinking, it looks like a cargo container multi-copter.

Re:Fragile (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 4 months ago | (#46732363)

Special ops? those engines/motors couldnt take a 7.62x39 mm bullet (popular militia / rebel round) .

How many engines/blades can it lose and still fly?

Re:Fragile (2)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#46732889)

It can be designed with the ability to spontaneously lose its flying capability, and then right itself for continued travel on the ground.

There are a handful of marginal uses that come to mind, but in most, there's little incentive to combine the two vehicles. A remote all-terrain vehicle could be designed to carry a container delivered by (or to) a UAV.

Ronco tarnished a generation with the Do-It-All gadget mindset, but there are seemingly inevitable compromises in exchange for multiple functions.

Re:Fragile (1)

Richard Kirk (535523) | about 4 months ago | (#46733217)

This actually looks good to me. Most helicopters can be shot down with a rifle. They are huge engines with large fuel tanks and large, whirling blades, and it is not that difficult to get them to destroy themselves with their own momentum, height, or fuel. This thing has eight separate lifting units. I would imagine with the large body, it would not fall that fast, and even if you were missing several rotors it could land in a controlled fashion. The wheels make it look a bit like the chariot from "Lost In Space" but I imagine it could run over uneven ground with computers anticipating the uneven terrain.

I doubt if it is a fast or as powerful as a purpose designed helicopter. However, for something like mountain rescue it would work. You could drive most of the way with lots of first-aid kit, hop over the river where the bridge is down, get to where you are going, dump the supplies to lose weight, fly up the mountain to rescue people, then drive back fully loaded with everyone on board.

Lastly, if you have to use this in a warlike manner, this is a potential solution. You can use bombs, and drones and gas and napalm to clear the ground, but all skirmishes from the bronze age to today are still settled in the field by one lot of people with weapons going over to another lot of people with weapons on foot, and persuading them to give up. The art has always been to deliver your foot soldiers, fresh and well-equipped, in a short hop to the forward position, and get them back if things go bad. This may do it more safely or more cost-effectively than a helicopter if you avoid the temptation to turn it into a long-distance speed-flying helicopter gunship with frickin' lasers () and just stick to the job in hand. This particular beast may look a bit Jules Verne's Armada of the Skies, and it may turn out to be a dog, but IMHO the thinking behind it is sound.

Not fragile: Redundant. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 4 months ago | (#46733625)

This actually looks good to me. Most helicopters can be shot down with a rifle. They are huge engines with large fuel tanks and large, whirling blades, and it is not that difficult to get them to destroy themselves with their own momentum, height, or fuel.

I concur. Helicopters are a collection of single-points-of-failure, disasters waiting to happen. (Particularly the pilot - they have to be continuously controlled and crash almost instantly if anything incapacitates him.) Their vulnerability is justified only because their extreme usefulness oughtweighs it. With eight rotors I'd be surprised if this vehicle couldn't at least come to ground safely with at least two of them destroyed, and the multicopter approach has been under autonomous computer control from the start - made practical only by the automation.

I envision this thing's missions as being primarily extreme rough-country ground transport, with short hops to bypass otherwise impassible terrain, reach otherwise inaccessible destinations or targets, attack from above, or put on a burst of speed when time is of the essence. Think a truck-sized "super jeep" ala Superman. Being primarily a ground vehicle lets it perform longer missions and reduces its visibility and vulnerability compared to a helicopter.

Just because you CAN fly doesn't mean you DO fly all the time. As is pointed out in the webcomic Schlock [schlockmercenary.com] Mercenary [schlockmercenary.com] : "Do you know what they call flying soldiers on the battlefield?" ... "Skeet!"

Fixed the punchline link. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 4 months ago | (#46734153)

Dang. Typo broke the first, more-punchline-worthy, Schlock [schlockmercenary.com] link.

I'm really begining to hate the keyboard on this new laptop.

Re:Fragile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46732619)

It's still useful even if it can just hop across an otherwise impassable piece of terrain, over a river, etc. It could be used for resupply or evac via routes that nobody would expect.

Re:Fragile (1)

sysrammer (446839) | about 4 months ago | (#46735577)

"...couldnt take a 7.62x39 mm bullet...". Maybe, but it occurs to me that in many special ops missions, if a bullet is flying, the mission has already failed. This may not be a tool selected for certain missions, but may be a fine tool for others.

Re:Fragile (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about 4 months ago | (#46737733)

the Black Knight is designed specifically for autonomous casualty evacuation and unmanned cargo resupply missions. While it can be flown by an onboard pilot, its unmanned capabilities are intended to keep pilots out of harm's way on dangerous missions.

It isn't intended to always come home, or to replace special forces helicopters.

Combo vehicles will never be more than curiosities (2)

Nutria (679911) | about 4 months ago | (#46732361)

Air, land and water are just too different.

Re:Combo vehicles will never be more than curiosit (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 4 months ago | (#46732389)

Yeah space as well. The Apollo CSM was a significantly better space craft than the Space Shuttle, but the shuttle was a slightly better aircraft.

Re:Combo vehicles will never be more than curiosit (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 4 months ago | (#46732547)

how do you figure that? I never saw the apollo space craft pull up along side another space based object latch on to it and conduct repairs on it. the closest we got was the CM and LM would latch up for a joined flight after it was in space.

The space shuttle was big but it had very useful features like a large cargo bay that not only could take things into space but also return them. It could sleep 7 for two weeks. If we are ever going to build in space we need that ability. we have enough junk up there as it is to make building space stations even more dangerous.

Re:Combo vehicles will never be more than curiosit (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#46732603)

The space shuttle was big but it had very useful features like a large cargo bay that not only could take things into space but also return them.

Yes, because this capability was indispensable for so many missions that the whole program would have been more expensive without it, right?

Re:Combo vehicles will never be more than curiosit (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 4 months ago | (#46732613)

The shuttle was highly specialised and quite delicate. It could only accelerate at four gravities and in the challenger disaster, fell completely to bits when turned sideways against its direction of travel. An airliner would have at least held together and an apollo command module wouldn't have cared much at all. Apollo could aerobrake at 11 gravities and because of its triangulated structure could actually take a lot more of a beating than its occupants. It could land anywhere on earth, in smaller places than even a helicopter would require. The shuttle was limited to a few very long runways.

Because of its modular architecture, Apollo could have been extended for deep space missions. Attach an extended service module for long duration. Maybe build a skylab type module as a cruise stage habitat.

But my main point is that shuttle was limited to low earth orbit by its poor aerobraking capabilities, while Apollo flew to the moon and would have coped with missions to near earth asteroids. That makes it a better space craft.

Re:Combo vehicles will never be more than curiosit (1)

dwye (1127395) | about 4 months ago | (#46734179)

The Apollo CSM never pulled along side another space based object and latched on because it didn't need to on any of the missions except 13, and that mission wouldn't have needed to do so if the service module hadn't had a one-in-a-program explosion. The DID do that during at least two Gemini missions that I watched growing up.

The original design version of the shuttle would have been far more useful, but it was Proxmired away.

Re:Combo vehicles will never be more than curiosit (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 4 months ago | (#46738143)

In retrospect I think STS would have worked better as sort of a winged Apollo service module. Consider an Apollo command module in the expanded rescue configuration as the shuttle flight flight deck. Hatch through the heat shield like the Gemini wet lab. The CM could eject and land on its own in pretty much any failure scenario.

Of course, an Apollo stack did one or two repair missions on Skylab. It was short on storage space in comparison to STS.

Agreed (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#46732631)

It would make a lot more sense to simply develop a quad (well, octo)copter lifter that can attach to a variety of vehicles than to try to develop a vehicle which is both in one. You'd burn through more fuel having to carry more redundancy, but it's worth it to not have to make stupid compromises and to have the lifting platform be able to move more than a box on wheels.

AT Black Knight Transformer Hits the Road ..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46732387)

"Does it come in Black.....?"

Bruce Wayne. ;-)

Commissioned by Michael Bay (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46732463)

Who's the only person on earth that could really foresee a reason to need to be a motorcycle and a helicopter at the same time.

Gizmag - LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46732469)

At least you linked directly to the Gizmag article, instead of linking to another site's report on a story that was in Gizmag DAYS ago, like you usually do...

Knight Industries (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46732511)

Black Knight Transformer, a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist.

Michael Knight, a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless in a world of corporations and politicians who operate above the law.

lame (1, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#46732701)

Ok, that thing is lame. It looks like someone built it in their garage (they probably did.) And Monster truck? What? They have it next to a stock F150 and it has less ground clearance, smaller tires and I see no front axle shafts (so no 4x4) and in fact, it's hard to see but I don't think there are rear drive shafts either. All this is, is a giant quadracopter with landing gear off a Honda Civic. They should just do away with the tires to save weight and be done with it.

Re:lame (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46732757)

Perhaps it's a proof of concept and not a production model.

Re:lame (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 4 months ago | (#46732785)

It looks like someone built it in their garage

It looks they built it out of their garage.

Re:lame (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46733283)

Maybe it uses the rotors to propel itself along the ground?

Re:lame (2)

Raistlin77 (754120) | about 4 months ago | (#46733853)

It has axles, they are just hard to see from a distance. You can seen them in the unveiling photos on AT's website [advancedtacticsinc.com] .

only two modes? (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 4 months ago | (#46734411)

Pfft...

Where's the robot mode?

electric (1)

strack (1051390) | about 4 months ago | (#46738051)

Why would you not have just one bigger engine powering a generator, and electric engines for the rotors and wheels?
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