The Navy Unveils "Cicada": Now Even the Drones Have Drones
January 2, 2012 6:36 PM
comment(s) - last by
Tiny drones are marvelously versatile, much like their insect namesakes
The U.S. Navy Research Lab
's Tempest Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) may not be the mother of all drones, but it
the mother of two drones, at least. Hoisted up to 53,000 feet onto a high-flying trajectory via releasable balloon, the Tempest UAV "gives birth" in flight, launching a pair of mini "Cicada" drones.
The tiny Cicadas are an exercise in efficiency, with their logic boards doubling as wings. The Cicada UAVs are gliders, complete with smartphone-like two-axis gyroscopes and GPS circuits for navigation.
Several variants have been produced. The Cicada Mark I can be launched by firing it from a gun into the air. The Cicada Mark III is designed with special wings for improved range and stability, and is the model used by Tempest "mothership". Cicada stands for Close-In Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft.
The Tempest first floats up to high altitudes via balloon, then launches as a glider [Image Source: U.S. Navy Research Lab]
The drone reportedly has a custom algorithm that accurately estimates wind speed and magnitude without any purpose driven sensors (presumably the algorithm is based on drift from the expected navigation path. A Cicada launched from an altitude of 18,000 feet was able to travel 11 miles, landing within 15 feet of its desired target, a remarkable feat. The drone has been hardened to endure winds up to 40 knots.
Lithium ion batteries -- the same kind you could find in your smart phone -- power the drone. The high-altitude versions have heaters to prevent the frigid temperatures of the upper atmosphere from harming the circuit board.
Comments Chris Bovais, NRL aeronautical engineer; "It gets quite cold at 30,000 feet—in the minus 57 degree Celsius range. So, we have to keep the batteries and electronics healthy and working."
The tiny drone will eventually be equipped with tiny imaging sensors and networking sensors as they near combat readiness.
The Cicada III is seen up close on the right, with the full Tempest being hoisted by the NRL team on the left. [Image Source: U.S. Navy Research Lab]
For conspiracy fans out there, the petite declassified Cicada is bird-sized -- just a bit larger that the infamous "dragonfly drone" that protesters in Washington D.C. claimed was "spying" on their activities. The government of course
denied all knowledge of cooking up secret robotic dragonfly minions
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
That's nice but,
1/2/2012 11:22:50 PM
were they smart enough this time to encrypt it?
"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs
Mini Insect Robocops: Engineers, Government Work on RC Insects
October 9, 2007, 10:02 AM
U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II, F-22 Raptor Team Up for “Integration Training”
November 19, 2014, 9:15 AM
U.S. Marshals Using Fake, Airplane-based Cell Towers to Scan Cell Phones of Americans
November 14, 2014, 9:05 AM
Ford Enlists Wind Energy Corp. to Provide Wind, Solar Energy to Four U.S. Dealerships
November 10, 2014, 10:58 AM
Disney Reveals Star Wars Ep. VII Title -- "The Force Awakens"
November 6, 2014, 3:45 PM
U.S. Navy Lockheed F-35C Completes First Carrier Landing
November 4, 2014, 12:44 PM
Microsoft Co-founder Paul Allen Donates $100M to Fight Raging Ebola Epidemic
October 23, 2014, 6:05 PM
Most Popular Articles
Uber Exec Threatens to "Spend Millions" to Stalk Female Reporter and Her Family
November 19, 2014, 12:31 PM
Apple Replaces “FREE” Label with “GET” on App Downloads in iTunes App Store
November 19, 2014, 5:38 PM
Rand Paul Casts Crucial "No" Vote on Obama-Backed PATRIOT Act Renewal Bill
November 19, 2014, 5:15 PM
FTC Announces Crackdown on Computer Speedup/Tech Support Scams
November 20, 2014, 1:40 PM
Wal-Mart: Miss Thanksgiving, Get Xbox One + Master Chief Collection for $299
November 17, 2014, 9:40 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information