Tag Archives: Robotics

Aerosonde: At Work in any Latitude

UAV Aerosonde Antartica

How UAS can assist non-military projects regardless of conditions.

By George Jagels

Textron Systems’ Aerosonde Small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) has logged tens of thousands of hours for the U.S. military. The “Group II” system, weighing between 50 and 75 pounds at takeoff, is launched expeditiously either on top of a vehicle or by catapult and recovered through a net or belly landing. Aerosonde, according to Textron, is the only unmanned aircraft in its class using an FAA-certified manufacturer (Lycoming) to make its engine. (more…)

Managing the Transition: Matching Army Robotics Force Structure and Strategy

LTC Stuart Hatfield Army RoboticsLieutenant Colonel Stuart Hatfield is the Robotics Branch Chief, Dominant Maneuver Division, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8, Department of the Army in the Pentagon, where he manages the Army’s $800 million budget for Robotics and Unmanned Ground Systems. LTC Hatfield is the Army Staff lead integrator for Unmanned Ground Systems, and he co-chairs the Joint Staff Unmanned Ground Systems Integrated Product Team to synchronize concepts, requirements, technology, and standards for remote and autonomous systems across the Department of Defense. LTC Hatfield was honored by the National Defense Industrial Association as the 2012 Ground Robotics Champion.

Interview by UTS Editor George Jagels

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Pocket Change: A Nano Air Vehicle Proves Its Worth

The PD-100 Black Hornet fits onto a combat vest and is designed to look around corners without risking the user life or being detected by the enemy.

By George Jagels

As equipment improves, the average weight a soldier carries keeps rising. A 2009 Army study showed the average soldier humped 100 pounds of gear on patrol. And with budget freezes and force cuts, training specialists at the squad level is less and less feasible. Thus when one thinks of adding an unmanned aerial system (UAS) to a small unit, words like “unfeasible” and “unnecessary” might be the reaction. But what if that system took two days to learn and weighed 2.8 pounds, fitting into a soldier’s combat vest?

Prox Dynamics, a small UAS company based in Norway, builds just such a system. The PD-100 Personal Reconnaissance System, or Black Hornet, is a nano air vehicle (nano UAV) with many of the capabilities and potential of much larger, more complicated devices. In a field with ever more competition— witness the extraordinary expansion of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International trade group—the Black Hornet seems in a class of its own. With the little heard from Aerovironment’s Hummingbird since 2011, my research shows operationally useful nano UAVs are confined to the Black Hornet.

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Securing the Skies: How Will the U.S. Military Fend Off Unmanned Systems?

This article first appeared in the Fall 2013 issue of Unmanned Tech Solutions.

By George Jagels

If they ever existed, the days of an American monopoly on military unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are surely over. While many countries building new systems are NATO members or longtime U.S. allies, some are not: China, Russia, and Iran produce UAS of varying degrees of sophistication. Much like in the recent past, the Pentagon must deal with both a foreign military challenge—at least 76 states now possess UAVs—and a more asymmetric threat. With  growing capabilities of small UAS comes greater access for non-state actors such as terrorist groups and drug cartels. This still-murky asymmetric threat—particularly as U.S. airpower remains unquestioned—presents an interesting challenge for the Pentagon.

Though the services were unable to comment on much of their counter-UAS doctrine and programs, they are developing them. Since 2010, an annual joint exercise called “Black Dart” has tested capabilities on this front. Late last year, the Army held a meeting at Fort Sill, OK, with allied and industry representatives to discuss countering enemy UAVs. The Navy will deploy a laser weapon system designed to destroy missiles and pilotless aircraft to the Persian Gulf next year.
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The Robotic Future is Here: Are You Ready?

By Bruce Schlee, President and CEO, Helical Robotics

This article appeared in the Fall 2013 issue of Unmanned Tech Solutions.

Robot. Somewhat ironically for a machine, the word evokes emotions—excitement, fear—while sparking endless intellectual debates. Over the past three and a half years, I have been traveling around the world and talking with people about mobile robotics. Most people are fascinated by the thought, but I am constantly asked if or when “they will take over the world.” Although this is a popular theme in Hollywood, a planet run by robots is best left to science fiction novels.

I prefer to look at the evolution of robotics through the prism of its history. To understand where something is going, I often find it is best to remember where it’s been.

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