Next-generation drone: No operator needed


Just imagine, a drone that could fly itself – with no GPS programming or human controller – into a battle zone to hunt for a downed American pilot.

Or one that could search for survivors of an earthquake when GPS is not functioning.

Or one that could fly into a building and scan it for dangers before soldiers or first responders risk their lives and enter.

Those are the objectives of a new research and development program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, says a new report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

DARPA recently staged a competition in Florida for its Fast Lightweight Autonomy, or FLA, program.

Over four days, three teams of researchers worked to have unmanned aerial vehicles maneuver through increasingly complicated courses.

They included cluttered buildings and obstacle-strewn environments, where the units needed to travel about 45 mph using onboard cameras and sensors.

“Potential applications for the technology include safely and quickly scanning for threats inside a building before military teams enter, searching for a downed pilot in a heavily forested area or jungle in hostile territory where overhead imagery can’t see through the tree canopy, or locating survivors following earthquakes or other disasters when entering a damaged structure could be unsafe,” DARPA said.

JC Ledé, the program manager, explained the program’s goal is to work on algorithms to allow UAVs or ground vehicles to operate by themselves.

“Most people don’t realize how dependent current UAVs are on either a remote pilot, GPS, or both. Small, low-cost unmanned aircraft rely heavily on tele-operators and GPS not only for knowing the vehicle’s position precisely, but also for correcting errors in the estimated altitude and velocity of the air vehicle, without which the vehicle wouldn’t know for very long if it’s flying straight and level or in a steep turn.

“In FLA, the aircraft has to figure all of that out on its own with sufficient accuracy to avoid obstacles and complete its mission.”

For the rest of this report, and more, please to go Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

from Propaganda Guard
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