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Air Force Commits to Micro Air Vehicle

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the expensive-toy-planes dept.

The Military 44

Looks like the Air Force is committing to full scale production of their new "Wasp III" mini-UAV. "Weighing in at a mere 1 pound, the plane's diminutive 29-inch wingspan can still loft a variety of hefty payloads in addition to its infrared cameras that stream video directly to ground control. The Wasp is launched by hand and can be operated either manually or programmed for auto-pilot with autonomous GPS navigation, according to AeroVironment. The Wasp III is part of Air Force's Battlefield Air Targeting Micro Air Vehicle program (BATMAV), which will allow troops to scan enemy targets from 5 kilometers away for up to 45 minutes at a time, according to the company."

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44 comments

Micro-9/11? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22187908)

Let's fly these into the afros of niggers and annoy them until they return to Africa. This is my plan.

Ron Paul, MD

Small soldiers. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22187954)

These micro vehicles will be driven by tiny soldiers I presume.

Re:Small soldiers. (2, Funny)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 6 years ago | (#22189162)

The reason modern military aircraft are so large, is so they can fit the pilots ego.

Re:Small soldiers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196328)

Well, what do you think Hasbro and DARPA have been doing with G.I. Joe all these years?

Peh Article (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188038)

>"Weighing in at a mere 1 pound, the plane's diminutive 29-inch wingspan can still loft a variety of hefty payloads..."

No, it can't. For example, it won't have the capacity to carry weapons or even a very good video camera. It won't have a long-range transmitter. Because it's lightweight.

Like the article...

Re:Peh Article (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 6 years ago | (#22189392)

You can make a pretty good lightweight video camera, especially if you mainly want to use it outdoors.

Howd you quote the article, and still not read it? (1)

deft (253558) | more than 6 years ago | (#22189518)

"its infrared cameras that stream video directly to ground control...which will allow troops to scan enemy targets from 5 kilometers away for up to 45 minutes at a time".

Yeah, it sounds like that camera sucks.

Re:Howd you quote the article, and still not read (1)

lxw56 (827351) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204874)

Small cameras can be pretty good, but I read that "5 km" to mean how far the plane can fly from launch.

Who Wouldn't Want One? (1)

mthomp16 (1152599) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188052)

I mean, having your own little spy plane? Find out what's going on in traffic, see what the neighbors are doing, and so much more. I wish I could get one.

batteries (2, Interesting)

primadd (1215814) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188100)

I've looked into the idea of building one of the micro copters demonstrated at the chaos computer club camp in 2007.
(see: http://microdrones.de/ [microdrones.de]) But I have been unable to find any kind of power source that would allow me to fly for 45 minutes. About 15-20 minutes is the maximum with good batteries if you want carry a small camera as well. Looked into solar (not enough. each motor takes up to 15 amps @ ~20v iirc) and fuel cell (far too heavy and expensive).

What kind of power source could you use besides fuel, which is far too loud for inner city usage.

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Re:batteries (2, Interesting)

primadd (1215814) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188142)

Here is a demonstration video [youtube.com]

Re:batteries (2, Interesting)

IdeaMan (216340) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188744)

There is a very large difference in efficiency between helis and fixed wings. Try switching to a high glide ratio fixed wing aircraft and run power consumption calculations on that. There were several project that used solar, including a NASA one that was designed for indefinite solar powered flight.

Another good candidate to get more range from a vehicle that small is Microwave power [friendsofcrc.ca], although it's more oriented towards larger get up high and loiter type drones.

I'd be more interested in what optics solution they're using to get decent intel out of a unit that small. They'd have to have some sort of image stabilization, and the engine better be mounted on a decent cushion to kill vibration. Are there any sensors that would fit in a package that small that can see through walls?

watch for them in skys above you (1)

BlueshiftVFX (1158033) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188190)

Watch for them is the sky coming to your neighbourhood soon. this message brought to you by the dept. of Homeland security.

Yeah, about that... (2, Insightful)

Nysem (1226462) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188310)

These sound like nothing more than Airhogs (For those who even know what they are) with cameras and sensors, among other gadgets, attached to it. Personally...I'd like one.

The enemies response..... (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188590)

So, the enemy lofts up their own(except they really DID go to radio shack!) with some C-4 and a hand full of BBs taped around it, flies close and detonates.

Done deal.

Re:The enemies response..... (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188738)

And they can even detonate using that extra channel usually used for the landing gear, since, presumably, landing gear will not be needed in the foreseeable future.

Re:The enemies response..... (1)

KoshClassic (325934) | more than 6 years ago | (#22189536)

Ya. Hobbyists beware. If a bunch of middle eastern guys show up and want you to teach them how to fly RC aircraft, but aren't interested in learning how to land the aircraft, best call the FBI.

Re:The enemies response..... (1)

AmericanInKiev (453362) | more than 6 years ago | (#22189596)

Right, cause those guys will stop spying on MLK on a dime and go check out real threats?

yeah, like in what Universe?

AIK

Re:The enemies response..... (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196456)

You make it sound so easy, but clearly you have never tried to spot an airplane. At just a few hundred feet you will not see or hear an aircraft like this, even in a cloudless, sunny sky. I was trained in the operation of the AV Raven, and once that thing is 20 seconds away from you, you can't see or hear it.

Re:The enemies response..... (1)

BLAG-blast (302533) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204756)

So, the enemy lofts up their own...

Eagles! Some crack troops trained in falconry, a good eagle breeding program and problem solved. It's probably not even necessary to mount lasers on them!

Sweet! (1)

planckscale (579258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188758)

These are nice. I think as soon as the troops, especially in Afghanistan, receive contact from the enemy, they should launch these drones. There has to be a better way to locate enemy mortar teams and small arms fire. For example, if firebases can get even a good estimation of where mortar fire is coming from, launch a couple of these, track down the source and call in the air power! It would be great to have IR sensors on them as well to locate heat signatures as well.

Re:Sweet! (1)

triso (67491) | more than 6 years ago | (#22192862)

...It would be great to have IR sensors on them as well to locate heat signatures as well.

Most modern digital video cameras are sensitive to IR. Flash your TV's remote control at your web-cam to see this.

Gaming community called it (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#22188806)

So I guess the GRAW series and Call of Duty 4 got it right by simulating the effect small UAV devices would have in combat.

Re:Gaming community called it (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22191600)

Those are games, not simulations. Even if they were simulations, they'd be cheesy COTS simulations. Strangely, an entire world exists outside video games, and if one's horizon is so limited as to only have video games in his life, he might be misled by his experience to think that video games have anything to do with weapons development.

Re:Gaming community called it (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#22209374)

Those are games, not simulations. Even if they were simulations, they'd be cheesy COTS simulations.
No shit! You say that games are commercial and off the shelf! Wow, what a revelation (rolls eyes)

Strangely, an entire world exists outside video games, and if one's horizon is so limited as to only have video games in his life, he might be misled by his experience to think that video games have anything to do with weapons development.
Assume much?! I was not implying that weapons were developed based on the video games. I was stating that video game developers seems to be in the loop way before the Slashdot community in knowing that Micro-UAVs would be the wave of the future in modern combat. As to your silly Ad Hominem attack, I do work and I did server in the military so you can just suck it!

Planes? Satellites? (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 6 years ago | (#22189312)

What does this thing do that satellites and full-sized planes don't do better? Take into account that resolution of the camera is limited by size, weight and vibration. It may make sense to build a remotely controlled plane that is too small to carry people but large enough to be stable and useful for carrying equipment, or to make something so small, it can enter buildings and other structures, but this is literally a toy you can buy in a store now.

Re:Planes? Satellites? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22189494)

Small UAVs are for the front line soldiers to use and control when and how they choose. Full size planes and satellites are so the bureaucrats can sit safely at home and watch pred(ator) pr0n.

Re:Planes? Satellites? (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 6 years ago | (#22189938)

Even if that thing was five meters long, it would be in a completely different class without becoming a large, expensive monstrosity.

Re:Planes? Satellites? (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 6 years ago | (#22189524)

It can be where the soldier needs it when the soldier needs it, rather than a resource that has to be scheduled and approved ahead of time.

Re:Planes? Satellites? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#22197444)

Full-size acft are not always loitering waiting for a call, and satellites can't see horizontally at near-ground level. A portable RC plane could be deployed and used to call in artillery or mortar strikes, with no full-size aviation involvement.

Re:Planes? Satellites? (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 6 years ago | (#22214266)

...given that it will actually accomplish anything. What is not likely to happen considering how little it can carry while still being perfectly visible and vulnerable.
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