Seiko Epson Corp. is developing a flying robot that looks like a miniature helicopter, and which its makers hope will be used for security, disaster rescue and space exploration. Dubbed the Micro Flying Robot, the 12.3-gram, 85-millimetre machine, shown to reporters on Wednesday, follows a flight-route program sent from a computer using Bluetooth wireless technology
Flying robot may help in security, disaster relief [and space exploration] The Globe and Mail
Raytheon demonstrated its SilentEyes Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) by ejecting it from an MQ-9 Predator pylon-mounted canister during tests at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
Proxity Digital Networks, through Cyber Aerospace Corp, an operating subsidiary of Proxity’s On Alert Systems, announces their first generation Individual Unmanned Air Scout (IUAS), known as Cyber Scout, is in test flight mode. Weighing only 10 lbs., the UAV is designed to operate innovative clandestine reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition and could be hand-carried into battle to perform hunter-killer missions.
SciScoop covered this story over a year ago, but it’s worth taking a look at again now because of new May 2004 cover stories in Popular Mechanics and Physics Today. Apparently there are classified efforts underway to modify an existing Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a quantum nucleonic reactor (QNR) to power its jet engine, allowing virtually unlimited time aloft.
Atomic Wings Popular Mechanics
After more than six decades of research, the first atom-powered airplane is cleared for takeoff. Although details of the project remain classified, a description of this remarkable aircraft has begun to emerge from technical conferences and declassified engineering studies. The plane will be both familiar and unique. Familiar in that it will resemble a Northrop Grumman Global Hawk, the bulbous-nosed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that the U.S. Air Force has used to track enemy movements in Afghanistan and Iraq. Unique because its nuclear reactor is unlike any other. Rather than split heavy elements or fuse light atoms–as in fission and fusion reactors–it will use what is known as a triggered isomer reaction. If this new powerplant, called a quantum nucleonic reactor, performs as scientists expect, its effect on the aircraft industry may prove as revolutionary as the introduction of the jet engine.
Our neighboring planets may someday be explored by aircraft with no motors or jets or props, but with solar-powered wings that flap and soar like an eagle.
Wickman Spacecraft & Propulsion Company has successfully tested a jet engine that burns carbon dioxide. The jet engine would “breathe” and burn the Martian atmosphere as it flies along, just like airplane jet engines breathe the air on earth. What makes this Martian jet engine unique is that the Mars atmosphere is 95% carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is commonly used in fire extinguishers to put out fires on earth. Wickman engineers have developed a system where magnesium powder can be burned directly with carbon dioxide. Magnesium is believed to exist in the soil of Mars and is abundant on earth. This new jet engine would be ideally suited for the Mars Airplane.
Nuclear-powered drone aircraft on drawing board New Scientist
The US Air Force is examining the feasibility of a nuclear-powered version of an unmanned aircraft. The USAF hopes that such a vehicle will be able to “loiter” in the air for months without refuelling, striking at will when a target comes into its sights. Instead of a conventional fission reactor, the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is focusing on a type of power generator called a quantum nucleonic reactor. This obtains energy by using X-rays to encourage particles in the nuclei of radioactive hafnium-178 to jump down several energy levels, liberating energy in the form of gamma rays. A nuclear UAV would generate thrust by using the energy of these gamma rays to produce a jet of heated air.
ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme is to supply state-of-the-art technologies to assist adventurer Bertrand Piccard’s flight around the world in a single-pilot solar-powered aircraft, as the ultimate demonstration of the potential for pollution-free flight.
Using gravity to get off the ground Machine Design
Here’s a good trick: The gravityplane, brainchild of inventor Robert Hunter, will be able to change its density from lighter-than-air to heavier-than-air. The aircraft, still in development, will be similar to a submarine that changes its buoyancy, a form of gravity, to float on the surface of the sea or cruise 300 ft below it. If the design pans out, the plane won’t need any fossil fuel and will have a virtually unlimited range.