24 Apr 15. Korea Unveils TR-60 UAV – World’s Fastest Tiltrotor. This unmanned tiltrotor drone is able to take off and land vertically like a helicopter, while flying like an airplane. Able to stay in the air for up to six hours, the TR-60 can reach speeds of up to 500 kilometers an hour, making it the fastest of its kind in the world. Costing more than 90 million U.S. dollars, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute says it plans to complete development of the TR-60 by 2023 and begin mass production the following year. Designed to operate in the stratosphere, the TR-60 can be used for surveillance, search and rescue, aerial reconnaissance, transportation and communication relays. “Korea’s current drone technology is said to be the seventh best in the world. But by 2023, we aim to be in the top five and climb to third or fourth by 2027.” Aerospace market analysis firm Teal Group says the global drone market was estimated at 5.3 billion dollars last year, but industry analysts expect it to more than double in less than a decade. Korea’s drone market is also projected to expand quickly growing more than 20 percent a year and reaching well over 500 million dollars by 2022. But with global tech giants like Google and Facebook jumping into the market, Korea is expected to face some stiff competition in the years to come. (Source: UAS VISION/Arirang News)
24 Apr 15. US Marines Testing Piggyback Hunter Drones. The US Marine Future Warfighting Laboratory recently tested a new robot team that works together to look for objects, provide situational awareness, and hunt for “bad actors” on the battlefield. The test married a ground robot, like an iRobot PackBot, with a small six-rotor aerial drone that docked with it and launched from its back. Working with virtually no human guidance, the pair of robots hunted for objects and reported on their progress. Defense One caught up with Marine Corps Lt. Col. James Richardson Jr. at the Navy League’s recent Sea-Air-Space conference outside Washington D.C. He detailed the unmanned tactical autonomous control and collaboration, or UTACC, project, and its late-February demo at Carnegie Mellon University.
“The robots were given the task to find [an] object, take a photo of it, send it back to me,” Richardson said. “First, the ground vehicle, after some time, found it, took a photo and sent it to me saying, ‘Hey, I found the target.’ Then we hid the object in a manner that the ground robot couldn’t find it.”
Unbidden, the robot team dispatched the unmanned aerial system, or UAS, to locate the object, he said.
“You didn’t have the Marine controlling it; you had the software actually controlling the UGV[unmanned ground vehicle] and UAS to do the mission. That frees up the Marine from having to sit and control every second,” Richardson said.
The test confirmed that the ground and aerial robot could create and instantly share a 3-D map of a given environment and then autonomously locate objects within it, working as an independent team but with an operator “in the loop,” still overseeing but providing no guidance.
Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Killea called the demonstration the “next level” in unmanned teaming. “The unmanned systems must recognize what they’re being told to do, formulate a plan, and then execute a shared understanding of mission requirements,” he told a crowd at Sea-Air-Space. In the test, the object in question was a green marker attached to a clipboard. The Marines, obviously, have bigger targets in mind, including people.
“In the future, where we would like to go is use one of the ground robots that we’re currently using in the Marine Corps and a UAV and, say, pick someone out in the crowd or look for a certain vehicle, or something like that … Say we know what Patrick looks like and have something flying around and on the ground. We can say, ‘We’re looking for Patrick because he’s a bad actor. Find him.’ Then the system can take a photo and say, ‘We found him. This is where they’re lo