Print 5 comment(s) - last by BZDTemp.. on Oct 29 at 8:38 PM

NASA Ikhana in action  (Source: NASA)
Technology helps fight the wild fires in SoCal

Mass media remains fixated on the wild fires that unfortunately forced thousands of people to flee from their homes in southern California.  Tom Corelis and Steve Kovsky recently wrote a couple of blogs that discuss technology and its influence during this horrible time, and today I want to discuss how NASA used its technology to help combat the fires.

NASA earlier in the week launched the Ikhana drone from Edwards Air Force Base, a major air base on the border of Los Angeles County and Kern County.  The Ikhana is a modified version of the U.S. Air Force's Predator B drone that  has been customized specifically for civil science and research missions - or natural disaster emergencies.

Ikhana was flown more than 20,000 feet above San Diego County, offering real-time photographs of the fires and their movement, which allowed firefighters to properly coordinate how to stop the fires.  Monitoring the progress made by fires typically is done by helicopter, but drones are unmanned and can operate for much longer times - and can fly in the strong winds and hazy sky.

"The need to collect data over day-night time cycles and over long distances in remote areas drives the need for a long-duration unmanned aircraft," said Brent Cobleigh, NASA Dryden's project manager for Ikhana.  "Piloted aircraft are limited by crew duty requirements that generally restrict science flights to 10 hours or less. Unmanned aircraft are also more suitable for remote missions spanning open oceans or the polar regions where the lack of nearby emergency landing locations increases the risk for piloted missions."

NASA researchers continue to put a large amount of research into unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology for a number of different reasons, including the fact they can be operated in situations not ideal for manned missions.

UAVs are becoming popular among hobbyists who have the right combination of brains and extra money to create something that is able to fly safely.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Not bad
By Master Kenobi on 10/27/2007 9:52:04 PM , Rating: 2
UAV's are the future.

RE: Not bad
By lompocus on 10/27/2007 10:02:29 PM , Rating: 2
so when can i use this to watch a hot chick down the street undress?


RE: Not bad
By LogicallyGenius on 10/28/2007 1:40:50 AM , Rating: 2
The plane doesnt look aerodynamic to me.

Since there is no one in the plane the plane can be made into a needle shaped (atleast in the front and end parts) for greater efficiency. Or may be someone is hiding in it ;-)

RE: Not bad
By BZDTemp on 10/29/2007 8:38:43 PM , Rating: 3
The plane doesnt look aerodynamic to me.

Well that just shows its good you don't build planes :-)

The shape is very dependent on what you want the plane to do. Remember this is not a fighter plane meant to go Mach 2+ or turn on a dime. This is meant to fly for a long time and neither speed or being able to do insane G's are a priority.

Also there is likely a space requirement set by radar and the like so form follows function as with most good tools.

If you'd like another example of how something bulky is better then take a look at how the really big freight ships are build. They are optimized for economy and all have a bulb at the nose. Then compare them with a ultra high powered war ship. The later is a little faster but takes much more power.

RE: Not bad
By Ringold on 10/28/2007 3:34:16 PM , Rating: 3
Minimum of a Student Pilot License with a solo cross-country endorsement + Cessna SkyCatcher + ATC system capable of remote controling an autopilot system aboard SkyCatcher = The flying highway system we were supposed to have by 2000.

Student license is easy enough to get, provides a basic level of competency should things go wrong.. SkyCatcher is a random example of a cheaper but capable plane.. if these UAVs can be remote controlled, then so could a light aircraft.

The only missing component seems to be a partly automated ATC system.

Considering the FAA is government and isn't above bowing to its airline masters, which would be threatened by the upper class having access to better transportation.. Maybe... 20 years? :\

"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki