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
1/3/2012 4:32:14 AM
"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton
Mini Insect Robocops: Engineers, Government Work on RC Insects
October 9, 2007, 10:02 AM
Nail Polish May Soon be Able to Detect Date Rape Drugs
August 26, 2014, 7:57 AM
SpaceX Falcon 9-R Rocket Suffers Malfunction, Self-Destructs During Test Flight
August 23, 2014, 9:36 AM
Texas Chosen as Site for SpaceX's First Commercial Launchpad
August 5, 2014, 1:44 PM
South Carolina Prison Finds Crashed Drone Carrying Drugs, Phones
August 1, 2014, 2:49 PM
NASA's Mars 2020 Rover Gains Seven New Instruments for Exploration
August 1, 2014, 1:30 PM
NASA Opportunity Rover Breaks Record for Most Miles Traveled on Another Planet
July 29, 2014, 1:38 PM
Most Popular Articles
Dell Announces "World's Thinnest" Tablet: The Venue 8 7000 Series
September 11, 2014, 8:51 AM
Quick Note: Buy an Xbox One Sept 7-13, Get a Free Game
September 4, 2014, 10:42 AM
Apple Announces Its Smartwatch: The $349 Apple Watch
September 9, 2014, 2:09 PM
T-Mobile Launches Un-carrier 7.0, Beefs Up Wi-Fi Calling
September 11, 2014, 2:56 PM
Russian Hackers Compile List of 10+ Million Stolen Gmail, Yandex, Mailru
September 11, 2014, 11:41 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information