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
Just one thing...
1/3/2012 10:27:34 AM
I may be nitpicking, but the use of the word "declassified" is not quite accurate. As far as I remember the CICADA was never classified. The appropriate term would be "unclassified", as I remember the CICADA being part of NRL's public tradeshow material since they were but PowerPoint slides.
Kudos to my buds at NRL!
"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer
Mini Insect Robocops: Engineers, Government Work on RC Insects
October 9, 2007, 10:02 AM
Creationists are Mad About Google Doodle Depicting Evolution
November 24, 2015, 8:48 PM
DHS and TSA: Whoops, We Missed That 73 Airport Employees May be Terrorists
November 19, 2015, 2:16 PM
Star Wars Spinoff Film "Rogue One", Theme Park Attractions Announced
August 17, 2015, 12:20 PM
SpaceX Falcon 9's Seventh Supply Mission to ISS Ends w/ Fiery Stage 1 Explosion
June 28, 2015, 1:10 PM
Cool Science Video: Glowing Millipede Prowls the Nevada Desert
May 18, 2015, 12:00 PM
Newly Discovered Costa Rican Glass Frog is Kermit's Doppelgänger
April 22, 2015, 11:26 AM
Most Popular Articles
Top 5 Smart Watches
July 21, 2016, 11:48 PM
Free Windows 10 offer ends July 29th, 2016: 10 Reasons to Upgrade Immediately
July 22, 2016, 9:19 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
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
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information