Two years after World War II, billionaire Howard Hughes personally piloted his "Spruce Goose" troop transport aircraft on the first and only flight of the largest seaplane ever built. It lasted barely a minute. Now, more than 70 years later, a U.S. startup is testing a new seaplane concept--one that could evolve into huge cargo drones that fly 109 metric tons of freight across the Pacific, touch down autonomously over water, and unload at ports around the world. The startup Natilus was founded in 2014 with a dream of building large cargo drones to deliver international freight for about half the price of piloted aircraft, and much faster than ships. In December, Natilus planned to test the water-taxiing capabilities of a small prototype drone with a 9-meter wingspan in San Francisco Bay.
Two years after World War II, billionaire Howard Hughes personally piloted his "Spruce Goose" troop transport aircraft on the first and only flight of the largest seaplane ever built. It lasted barely a minute. Now, more than 70 years later, a U.S. startup is testing a new seaplane concept--one that could evolve into huge cargo drones that fly 109 metric tons of freight across the Pacific, touch down autonomously over water, and unload at ports around the world.
In three minutes, the Scout drone is assembled. One minute more, and it's airborne, tossed by a Marine. The flight is short, maybe 20 minutes at the most, but the information gained is valuable, a real-time video of just who or what, exactly, is behind that building a mile down the road. With the area surveilled, the aptly-named Scout drone flies back, and suffers a rough landing, snapping a wing. The squad can print another back at company HQ after the mission, and have it ready to go in a couple hours.
BAE Systems has released a set of images showing its new driverless mini-tanks that could revolutionise warfare. The innovative concept, codenamed Ironclad, could soon work alongside other unmanned aerial and ground vehicles to support troops on the battlefield. The Ironclad tanks can be modified with different attachments, meaning they can carry out reconnaissance, evacuate troops and act as bomb disposal units. BAE systems has released a set of images showing its new driverless mini-tanks that could revolutionise warfare. BAE Systems aims to make them completely autonomous in future, meaning they operate without a human controller.
"The people closest to the problem are also the people closest to the solution," Capt. Chris Wood, co-lead for Additive Manufacturing with the US Marine Corps, told Engadget. In 2016, the USMC put that adage to the test as it launched the Logistics Innovation Challenge, a program "to solicit ideas from Marines, sailors and civilians from across the Marine Corps" that would address challenges that they face in their daily duties. And this is only the start to the US Military's additive-manufacturing aspirations. Pretty soon, everything from ammunition to autonomous vehicles could come from the Corps' cadre of 3D printers.
The U.S. Marine Corps is reportedly testing an innovative new way of getting care packages to its troops in the field: disposable drones. The Tactical Air Delivery gliders, as they're calling them, would be able to deliver up to 700 pounds of food and other supplies, according to IEEE Spectrum. They can then be left to rot where they landed. The technology could also be used for a variety of applications outside the military, for example in fire fighting or search and rescue. Dropped from a height dozens of miles away, the drones would use basic GPS to float to within an easily walkable distance of wherever they are needed.
Getting supplies delivered to troops in remote areas is a big part of what the U.S. military does in terms of logistics. In many cases, it's too dangerous to send an airplane or helicopter, so the military is always looking for new ways of carrying out such resupply missions. Earlier this month at the Sea Air Space 2017 trade show in National Harbor, Md., we saw a new concept for remote resupply that the U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory has been testing. The TACAD (TACtical Air Delivery) glider is a prototype for an unpowered drone that can fly huge distances to deliver up to 700 pounds (317 kilograms) of whatever you need with high accuracy, and then be abandoned where it lands without a second thought. The picture above is a small scale model of the TACAD drone glider that the Marines are planning on building.
David Axe for the Daily Beast reports The U.S. Marine Corps is around six years away from putting a laser cannon on its trucks, according to one top general. The goal: to outfit ground forces with a weapon that can shoot down enemy aircraft faster and more precisely--and at lower cost--than today's guns and surface-to-air missiles.
Although it tends look to the sky, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) came back down to Earth to develop RoBattle, an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) that may soon be tasked with the type of risky missions typically assigned to foot soldiers. IAI's UGV is built to be maneuverable, dynamic, and tough. Six wheels with independent suspension enable RoBattle to scale obstacles, such as rubble and small walls, to access areas that would typically be out of reach for other robots. A modular robotic kit allows the machine to be modified and adapted with remote vehicle control, navigation, and real time mapping abilities, depending on its operational needs. RoBattle can operate independently or as support unit for convoy protection, decoy, ambush, attack, intelligence, surveillance, or armed reconnaissance, according to IAI.
Google is looking to sell robotics firm Boston Dynamics after concluding that it's unlikely to produce any marketable robot in the next few years, according to people familiar with the company who spoke to Bloomberg News. Those creations include the quadrupedal "Big Dog" robotic mule, its lighter and quieter sibling "Spot" and the bipedal robot "Atlas". And while Google had promised that Boston Dynamics wouldn't take any further military projects, the company still suffered a blow when the US Marine Corps rejected the Big Dog robot, saying it was too noisy for practical use. Boston Dynamics, still headquartered in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts, had never fully cohered with the wider company, and without strong leadership, remained distant from the Silicon Valley-based core of Google's robotics division.