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unmanned systems

Mixing With 
Manned Aircraft

November 1, 2012
By George I. Seffers

A new crash avoidance 
system will allow both 
manned and unmanned
 planes to operate 
in U.S. airspace. 

The U.S. Army is developing a collision avoidance system that will allow unmanned and manned aircraft to fly in the same airspace more easily and safely. The first-of-its kind system will enable service operators returning from the war zone to fly drones in the same U.S. skies as civilian aircraft, keeping the warfighters proficient and ready for the next conflict.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that a pilot be able to see and avoid other aircraft flying in the same airspace. But of course, drones have no onboard pilots. The Army currently has two FAA-approved options for meeting the requirement, and neither option is good, service officials say. The first is to fly a manned chase aircraft, such as a Cessna or a helicopter, behind the unmanned air system (UAS) to ensure it complies with FAA safety regulations. “It’s expensive. You can’t chase at night, and you can’t chase in clouds, so warfighters are limited,” says Viva Austin, Army product director for the Unmanned Systems Airspace Integration Concepts office. Another option is to use ground observers, but the observer must remain within about a mile and a half of the aircraft.

Pennsylvania State to Technologies for Unmanned Systems

September 30, 2011
By George Seffers

The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, was awarded a $34,077,057 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the research and development services in support of electro-optical and infrared technologies; night vision technology; and laser technologies and payloads for unmanned platforms. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, is the contracting activity.

Air Force Tilts Toward Unmanned Aircraft

May 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman, SIGNAL Magazine

Future aircraft that break into several pieces mid-flight may represent a technological advantage rather than a catastrophic incident. The U.S. Air Force is looking to develop unmanned aircraft that introduce a new set of capabilities not available with humans in the cockpit. Among these many future possibilities are transformer-type vehicles that split into separate flying segments and then reattach when their mission is completed.

Seeing Eye Systems Learn to Discern

May 2011
By Maryann Lawlor, SIGNAL Magazine

Persistent surveillance has been pegged as a crucial capability in current and future operations. Mind’s Eye is one of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) newest and most aggressive efforts to improve conditions for warfighters on the ground. The agency is working with the U.S. Army, industry and academia to create a way to educate video collection devices. Although existing cameras and sensors capture activity in an area, the mounds of visual data they collect are overwhelming to analysts and warfighters alike. Once visual intelligence is achieved, these information mountains will become actionable knowledge molehills that can be sent to commanders and perhaps directly to warfighters’ handheld computers in the field.

Robots Arming for Combat Duty

May 2011
By George I. Seffers, SIGNAL Magazine

Unmanned ground systems on the battlefield provide critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data and help counter improvised explosive devices. Now, ground robots are positioned to expand into armed missions in Afghanistan.

Battlefield Robotics: A New "Leash" on Unmanned Life

September 13, 2010
By Beverly Schaeffer

The notion of robots as trusted companions on the battlefield is no longer limited to the scope of science fiction or TV adventure. With the U.S. Army's Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance and its members forging ahead on autonomous technologies, warfighters may just very well have their own "Lassie" to save the day. What more can be done to enhance robotic artificial intelligence to benefit the troops? Share you ideas here.

Vehicle Flies Rapidly Into The Next Generation

Tuesday, September 08, 2009
By Rita Boland

An aircraft developed by a U.S. corporation is serving as a test-bed for advanced unmanned aerial systems. The internally funded program will employ a fighter-size prototype the company previously designed for a now-defunct military program. The applications for the platform have yet to be determined but will be based on customer desires and requests. The first flight is scheduled to launch late next year, and the company believes it will help shape the future of autonomous air technologies.

Robo Boats On the Horizon

Tuesday, September 08, 2009
By Henry S. Kenyon

Autonomous unmanned vessels soon may be patrolling harbors and conducting coastal reconnaissance missions. The prototype for these future robo boats can operate cooperatively with other robotic surface craft and navigate to a destination without human guidance. Designed for use in shallow waters, the boat can connect to and be controlled by U.S. Navy ships via tactical communications networks.

Combat Robot Ready for Limelight

Tuesday, September 08, 2009
By Henry S. Kenyon

An armed ground robot with its own sensors and weapons is undergoing operational trials with U.S. troops. Designed to support soldiers in nonlethal and direct combat situations, the robot features a variety of sensors to locate enemy forces and a machine gun and grenade launchers to suppress them. The machine is also equipped with safety and communications equipment allowing coalition forces to operate it at considerable distances for reconnaissance and infiltration missions.

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