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Submission + - Drones still face major communications challenges getting onto US airspace (

coondoggie writes: "Communications and effective system control are still big challenges unmanned aircraft developers are facing if they want unfettered access to US airspace. Those were just a couple of the conclusions described in a recent Government Accountability Office report on the status of unmanned aircraft and the national airspace. The bottom line for now seems to be that while research and development efforts are under way to mitigate obstacles to safe and routine integration of unmanned aircraft into the national airspace, these efforts cannot be completed and validated without safety, reliability, and performance standards, which have not yet been developed because of data limitations"

Submission + - Boeing uses 20,000 lbs. of potatoes to check aircraft wireless network signals (

coondoggie writes: "Boeing calls it Project SPUDS or rather Synthetic Personnel Using Dielectric Substitution — that is, using sacks of potatoes perched on aircraft seats to test the effectiveness of wireless signal in an airliner cabin. Boeing said it was researching an advanced way to test wireless signals in airplane and needed a way to effectively simulate say 200-300 people sitting in seats throughout the aircraft."

Submission + - NASA teams to build gyroscopes 1,000X more sensitive than current systems ( 3

coondoggie writes: "NASA today said it would work with a team of researchers on a three-year, $1.8 project to build gyroscope systems that are more than 1,000 times as sensitive as those in use today. The Fast Light Optical Gyroscope project will marry researchers from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center; the US Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center and Northwestern University to develop gyroscopes that could find their way into complex spacecraft, aircraft, commercial vehicles or ships in the future."
The Military

Submission + - Air Force lab test out "aircraft surfing" technique to save fuel ( 1

coondoggie writes: "It's not a totally new concept, but the Air Force is testing the idea of flying gas-guzzling cargo aircraft inline allowing the trailing aircraft to utilize the cyclonic energy coming off the lead plane- a concept known as vortex surfing — over long distances to save large amounts of fuel. According to an Air force release, a series of recent test flights involving two aircraft at a time, let the trailing aircraft surf the vortex of the lead aircraft, positioning itself in the updraft to get additional lift without burning extra fuel."

Submission + - DARPA shows off unmanned aircraft in-flight refueling technology (

coondoggie writes: "Refueling an aircraft while it is flying can be a tricky-enough proposition but refueling an unmanned jet from another unmanned jet sounds like a scene for a James Bond movie. But such a tricky procedure is apparently within reach as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, this week said it successfully tested the technology needed to fly two drones close enough together in mid-air, at speed that one, acting as a tanker aircraft, could successfully refuel the other."

Submission + - US Department of Homeland Security looking for (more than) a few good drones (

coondoggie writes: "The US Department of Homeland Security this week issued a call for unmanned systems makers to participate in a program that will ultimately determine their safety and performance for use in first responder, law enforcement and border security situations. In a twist that will certainly raise some eyebrows, the program's results of the ironically named program — The Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety (RAPS) — will remain unavailable to the public, which considering how involved the actual public may be with these drones is shall we say, unfortunate."
The Military

Submission + - Hypersonic test aircraft pealed apart after 3 minutes of sustained Mach 20 speed ( 1

coondoggie writes: "The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's experimental Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV-2), lost significant portions of its outer skin and became uncontrollable after three minutes of sustained Mach 20 speed last August. That was the conclusion of an independent engineering review board (ERB) investigating the cause of what DARPA calls a "flight anomaly" in the second test flight of the HTV-2."

Submission + - Ready or not, unmanned drones may soon be a staple of American life (

coondoggie writes: "If you're worried about companies like Facebook and Google violating your privacy, just wait until you have unmanned aerial drones flying around your house.
While this may sound like some far-fetched futuristic scenario, it's actually something that could become a reality by 2015."

The Military

Submission + - "Virginia is for drones?" (

coondoggie writes: ""Virginia is for drones" might be the new catch-phrase for the state if its senators succeed in bringing a major unmanned aircraft flight test center to the area. Democratic senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner from Virginia and along with Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland sent a joint letter to the Secretaries of Defense, Transportation and the NASA Administrator touting the Virginia/Maryland region as a strategic place to host one of the nation's first major Unmanned Aircraft Systems test range."

Submission + - NASA, Google award $1.35M for ultra-efficient elec (

coondoggie writes: "NASA today awarded what it called the largest prize in aviation history to a company that flew their aircraft 200 miles in less than two hours on less than one gallon of fuel or electric equivalent. Their aircraft is the Taurus G4 by The twin fuselage motor glider features a 145 kW electric motor, lithium-ion batteries, and retractable landing gear."

Submission + - Hypersonic airliner assures spacecraft-like flight (

coondoggie writes: "Aerospace giant EADS this week said it is looking to develop and ambitious commercial transport aircraft that can fly at speeds of about Mach 4 while having a limited impact on the environment. The aircraft, called ZEHST (Zero Emission High Supersonic Transport), would be targeted at long-haul routes — like Tokyo-Paris or Tokyo-Los Angeles where it could make the flight in less than 2 hrs 30 min, EADS said."

Submission + - NASA eyes prototype system to control drones (

coondoggie writes: "One of the chief technological reasons there aren't more unmanned aircraft in our national airspace is their lack of serious sensing, command and control capabilities. NASA wants to help change that.

Today the space agency said its Glenn Research Center is looking for potential sources and partners for the design and development of a Command and Control communication (C2) system prototype for unmanned aircraft"


Submission + - Bill almost triples drone-airspace test sites (

coondoggie writes: In a move that could move unmanned aircraft closer to gaining access to national airspace, a couple of US senators are backing an amendment that would increase the number of test sites for such access from 4 to 10. Specifically US Senators Charles Schumer of New York and Ron Wyden of Oregon are looking to tack on an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization bill that would significantly increase the number of test sites in the National Airspace System for unmanned aerial vehicles.

Submission + - Military aircraft to get all-fiber network gear ( 1

coondoggie writes: Looking to significantly reduce weight, improve on-board communications and make it easier to upgrade avionics, the US military is developing prototype phonic gear for use in all aircraft. Behind such a drastic shift is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency project with an ungainly moniker: Network Enabled by Wavelength division multiplexing Highly Integrated Photonics (NEW-HIP).

Submission + - Hydrogen-powered drone takes first flight (

coondoggie writes: A hydrogen powered unmanned aircraft successfully completed its first flight recently flying four hours and climbing to an altitude of 5,000 feet. The AeroVironment Global Observer is going through flight tests that in the end will produce aircraft that promises to fly up 400lbs of payload to 65,000 feet, while staying aloft for up to seven days. The company envisions the aircraft in a number of applications, from being a satellite-like communications link to emergency response and surveillance.

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