CyPhy Works Wins Research Grant to Develop UAV for Bridge Inspection

December 16, 2009

A company that was founded by a co-founder of iRobot has reportedly been granted a $2.4 million research award from the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology.


NIST announced up to $71 million in funding through its Technology Innovation Program (TIP) for 20 new cost-sharing projects designed to support innovative, high-risk research in new technologies that address critical national needs.

From Bayonne (Sort Of) To Baiona... Underwater

December 14, 2009

Teledyne Webb Research hailed the historic completion of the first transatlantic crossing of an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), a Slocum glider manufactured by the company.


Rutgers University professors Drs. Scott Glenn, Oscar Schofield, and Josh Kohut, in concert with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) led the effort to send a robotic vehicle across the Atlantic in order to raise awareness of and inspire students to engage in oceanographic research.

The glider, dubbed Scarlet Knight, was navigated by students from the Rutgers University Coastal Ocean Observation Lab (RUCOOL) and traveled more than 4,500 miles during its 7-month voyage.

Australian Air Force Leases Israeli UAVs

December 14, 2009

Israel Aerospace Industries has delivered an order of Heron unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), the Jerusalem Post reports.


The aircraft will be deployed as part of the RAAF's efforts in Afghanistan.


Air Force Confirms Stealth UAV

December 14, 2009

Aviation Week: Army UAV in Live Fire Tests

December 14, 2009

Titan Medical in Robot Surgery Pact with CAE Healthcare

December 7, 2009

NASA Awards Contracts to Study Lunar Excavation Robots

December 7, 2009

NASA recently selected Astrobotic Technology and Carnegie Mellon University for a pair of contracts to study Moon excavation robots and methods to simulate lunar gravity on Earth.                       The goal of this research is to be able to deploy excavating robots on the Moon to recover water and/or hydrocarbon resources under the topmost layers of the Moon's surface, potentially yielding material for rocket propellant and life support supplies.
    (image by Mark Maxwell)

NASA's recent Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission indicated that there was water in a permanently shadowed lunar crater, confirming some scientists' hypotheses.   According to the agency, the water content in the polar soil is 10 to 30 times richer than previously thought, and relatively accessible, thus the excavators.   "We intend our robots to be prospectors for water and hydrocarbon resources, and then to demonstrate how they can be turned into rocket propellant and life support supplies," said Dr. William "Red" Whittaker, founder of Astrobotic Technology and a research professor at the university's Robotics Institute. "Creating propellant at the Moon will halve the cost of lunar exploration and advance the date when we can send human expeditions to Mars."

iRobot Hopes to SPARK Science, Tech, Engineering and Math Education

December 7, 2009

iRobot has been at the forefront of several robotics movements, namely military robotics, with their PackBot line of mechanical warriors, and consumer robotics with their Roomba vacuums, Verro pool cleaning systems, and Looj gutter cleaning robots.   Today the Bedford, Mass.-based company announced an initiative aimed at educating tomorrow's innovators called SPARK. SPARK, which stands for Starter Program for the Advancement of Robotics Knowledge is designed to help children (as well as parents and educators) discover resources to advance their knowledge of STEM or science, technology, engineering, and math.   iRobot hopes that use of robotics in the educational process will help to encourage K-12 students to increase their interest in learning more about these subjects. The theory is that the use of robots will make learning more fun for students, which in turn will help them develop a genuine interest in the STEM subject matter.   According to a press release issued by the company today, SPARK is a portal through which parents and educators will be able to access a comprehensive library of educational resources, including:   ·         Robot-related tools, activities, events/camps and development platforms to help build STEM curricula and foster in students an appreciation and passion for STEM ·         Inspirational stories that demonstrate how robots are already making a meaningful difference in the classroom and community ·         Toys, games, crafts, projects and other cool stuff that incite creativity and encourage students to use their imagination ·         Opportunities to sign up for live robot "Demo Days" where iRobot engineers will visit classrooms to showcase some of the latest innovations in robotic technology in a hands-on, interactive environment that exposes students to the many ways robots can act as a tool for STEM learning.                                                                                                                                                                      

UAV Maker Sanswire Receives Funding Commitment

December 3, 2009

According to a company news release, Sanswire Corporation has received a funding commitment arranged by satellite tracking provider, Global Telesat Corp. (GTC), for $800,000 to be utilized for the completion of Sanswire-TAO's first commercial, multi-day endurance, lighter-than-air UAV, the STS-111.                                  Sanswire develops and produces lighter-than-air Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) designed to provide persistent surveillance for extended durations at mid and high altitudes   GTC had previously funded the construction of the STS-111.   Sanswire-TAO's patented, multi-day endurance, segmented STS-111 Airship has a length of 111 feet and a height of 11 feet. The STS-111 specifications include persistent line of sight coverage of approximately 170 miles at 15,000 feet above sea level, and the ability to operate for multi-day missions estimated at 2.5 days with a customer payload of 20 lbs.

Navy Team Sets Endurance Record for UAV Fuel Cell Flight

December 3, 2009

The Naval Research Laboratory's Ion Tiger, a hydrogen-powered fuel cell unmanned air vehicle (UAV), has flown 26 hours and 1 minute carrying a five-pound payload, setting an unofficial flight endurance record for a fuel-cell powered flight, according to a press release from the research lab.   The 37-pound Ion Tiger is a hydrogen-powered fuel cell UAV in development at the Naval Research Laboratory, the corporate laboratory of the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Previously flown with battery power, it has demonstrated sound aerodynamics, high functionality, and low-heat and noise signatures.   The electric fuel cell propulsion system onboard the Ion Tiger reportedly boasts four times the efficiency of a comparable internal combustion engine, and the system provides seven times the energy in the equivalent weight of batteries.   The Ion Tiger fuel cell system development team is led by NRL and includes Protonex Technology Corporation, HyperComp Engineering, and Arcturus UAV. The program is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research.   The research center hopes to increase the power of the fuel cell to 1.5 kW, or 2 horsepower with the goal of extending flight times to 3 days while powering tactical payloads.   To see the Ion Tiger in flight, check out this video from the Office of Naval Research.

Environmentally Correct Cardboard Mannequin Robots

December 3, 2009

Scientists Move Ahead With Bionics Research

December 3, 2009

Scientists in Rome have apparently successfully linked a robotic arm to a car crash victim who lost his forearm, allowing the victim to feel sensations and to control the limb using his thoughts.   According to an Associated Press report, 26-year-old Pierpaolo Petruzziello underwent a series of experiments last year wherein scientists implanted electrodes into the nerves located in what remained of his arm. The 5-year project, which cost an estimated 2 million Euros, was funded by the EU.   Petruzziello said that he felt like his lost arm had grown back again.   Still, the report points out that scientists did not actually attach the arm to the patient, but rather connected it solely through the electrodes. The next step will be to create a prosthetic that can be attached directly to the patient's nervous system.   For more on this fascinating scientific story, read the full AP story.  

Boeing MATRIX Laser Systems Destroy Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Tests

November 23, 2009

Ok, so it's not exactly sharks with laser beams on their heads, but I think it's pretty cool nonetheless, and much more practical.


It was announced this week that back in May, the Integrated Defense Systems division of Boeing demonstrated a mobile laser weapon system that was able to track and destroy small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). According to the news, the Boeing-developed Mobile Active Targeting Resource for Integrated eXperiments (MATRIX) used a single, high-brightness laser beam to shoot down five UAVs at various ranges.


The tests were sponsored by the U.S. Air Force and were conducted at the Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, California


"The Air Force and Boeing achieved a directed-energy breakthrough with these tests," said Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Missile Defense Systems' Directed Energy Systems unit.

U.S. Tests Solar-Powered HALE UAS at Naval Air Warfare Center

November 23, 2009

QinetiQ recently announced that the company's solar-powered Zephyr High-Altitude Long-Endurance unmanned aerial system (HALE UAS) has recently resumed flight testing and payload evaluations in Yuma, Arizona, when a joint U.S./U.K. Zephyr team undertook the first operation of the system with a U.S. flight crew.


This installment of an ongoing evaluation campaign focused on reviewing potential payloads as well as advancing the concept of operations (conops) for operating long endurance persistent aircraft in excess of five days.


The Zephyr concept is designed to offer solar-powered, persistent coverage with continuous mission durations of up to three months.

Air Force Awards $302.9 Million UAS Contract to Northrop Grumman

November 23, 2009

Northrop Grumman Corporation has won a $302.9 million fixed price incentive fee contract to produce and deliver five RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to the United States Air Force in a contract that runs through 2011.


The project also includes development of a ground station consisting of a launch and recovery element and a mission control element, plus two additional sensor suites that will be retrofitted into previous production aircraft.


According to the company, Global Hawk can soar at altitudes of more than 60,000 feet for more than 32 hours and send near-real-time reconnaissance imagery and signals intelligence data to air, ground, and sea forces. It can fly three times as long and operates at a fraction of the cost per flight hour of its manned counterpart.


The unmanned aircraft are currently flown in four locations across the globe: Beale Air Force Base, home of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing and the RQ-4's main operating base, in Northern California; Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California; Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland; and a forward operating location in support of Overseas Contingency Operations in the Persian Gulf.