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12 Apr 17. US Navy Research Lab Plans CICADA Swarm Tests. The US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is planning swarming tests of its Close-In Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft (CICADA) MK5 from a US Navy P-3 Orion aircraft. CICADA is a palm-sized unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed to be deployed from a sonobuoy canister and in essence is a flying circuit board with autopilot controls built into the wings. The air vehicle is GPS guided and self-stabilises using spin recovery manoeuvres that have been tested at a wind tunnel at the NASA Langley Research Center, an NRL spokesperson told Jane’s, at the Navy League Sea, Air, Space symposium at National Harbor, Maryland, on 5 April. CICADA currently carries Micro-Electro-Mechanical- (MEM)-based pressure, temperature, and humidity sensors, and estimates the vertical wind profile during descent. CICADA uses an onboard GPS to provide position, time and altitude and guide itself to a specific location on the battlefield. The CICADA has a 65 g flight weight and descends at a rate of around 1,000 ft per minute. The MK5 fits into a sonobuoy tube fitted with a parachute. After being launched from an aircraft, the canister releases all the CICADAs. A single tube can hold 32 of the small air vehicles, stacked two at a time, nose to tail. The launch system has now been approved by the US Naval Air systems Command for deployment from a P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft. With the basic research effort complete, the CICADA programme is hoping to transition the technology to industry or a military sponsor who could tailor it for a specific mission. To date, NRL has delivered 150 CICADAs to the NASA Langley Research Center. Photo: IHS Markit/Geoff Fein Source: UAS VISION/IHS Jane’s 360
12 Apr 17. The U.S. Army is poised to transform the ground robotics industry over the next year as it launches several competitions to define its future unmanned ground systems fleet. By necessity, during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army clamored to buy unmanned ground vehicles that could help provide a level of standoff between soldiers and the dangers faced on the battlefield, mostly improvised explosive devices. Due to the rapid procurement of roughly 7,000 UGVs, the Army now has a petting zoo of various ground robots from Talons to PacBots to Dragon Runners. A quick tour through the one-room museum at the Robot Logistics Support Center at Selfridge Air National Guard base in Harrison Township, Michigan, shows the invention and evolution of many of these robots. And a walk through the warehouse reveals only a glimpse of the extent of work the Army is still doing to keep the robots rotating in and out of use in the field. There are 10 UGV repair facilities in the U.S. and two forward-deployed. The various robots in the fleet perform functions from detecting explosives or other chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats to clearing mines and providing situational awareness. There are roughly nine variants of robots used for the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) mission, two robots for engineering battalions to conduct route clearance, two for CBRNe tasks and three for contingency and global response forces, and that’s just within the Army.
“One of the issues or challenges in some of the things that we’ve learned over time is these systems are, one, proprietary. So they don’t necessarily communicate with one another and, two, changes that we would need to make with them have to go back to the original contractors to make those changes,” Lou Anulare, the product manager for unmanned ground vehicles in the Army’s Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat System Support, told Defense News in an interview at Selfridge.
The Army’s way forward streamlines UGVs so there are just a few common chassis in the small, medium and