05 Jul 07. Aurora Flight Sciences has signed a contract with the U.S. Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (SMDC/ARSTRAT) for the continued development of the Orion HALL ultra-long endurance unmanned air system. Orion HALL’s primary mission is to serve as the demonstration testbed for an advanced hydrogen propulsion system. Aurora is currently testing a Boeing hydrogen engine in its ultra high altitude test facility in Manassas, Virginia. With such an engine, the Orion HALL Objective System would be able to carry payloads of up to 400 pounds to altitudes of up to 65,000 feet for endurances over 100 hours. A conventionally powered version of Orion HALL is also under study. This version could have endurances approaching two weeks at altitudes of around 20,000 feet. (Source: ASD Network)
05 Jul 07. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, San Diego, Calif., was awarded on June 28, 2007, a $14,665,000 increment as part of a $215,373,106 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for system development and demonstration for the Extended Range/Multi-Purpose Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif. (43 percent), Adelanto, Calif. (14 percent), Palmdale, Calif. (8 percent), Salt Lake City, Utah (18 percent), Hunt Valley, Md. (14 percent), and Huntsville, Ala. (3 percent), and is expected to be completed by Aug. 31, 2009.Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. There were 120 bids solicited on Sept. 1, 2004, and three bids were received. The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-05-C-0069).
12 Jul 07. Robot unravels mystery of walking. Roboticists are using the lessons of a 1930s human physiologist to build the world’s fastest walking robot. Runbot is a self-learning, dynamic robot, which has been built around the theories of Nikolai Bernstein. “Getting a robot to walk like a human requires a dynamic machine,” said Professor Florentin Woergoetter. Runbot is a small, biped robot which can move at speeds of more than three leg lengths per second, slightly slower than the fastest walking human. Bernstein said that animal movement was not under the total control of the brain but rather, “local circuits” did most of the command and control work. The brain was involved in the process of walking, he said, only when the understood parameters were altered, such as moving from one type of terrain to another, or dealing with uneven surfaces. The basic walking steps of Runbot, which has been built by scientists co-operating across Europe, are controlled by reflex information received by peripheral sensors on the joints and feet of the robot, as well as an accelerometer which monitors the pitch of the machine. These sensors pass data on to local neural loops – the equivalent of local circuits – which analyse the information and make adjustments to the gait of the robot in real time. Information from sensors is constantly created by the interaction of the robot with the terrain so that Runbot can adjust its step if there is a change in the environment. (Source: BBC)
10 Jul 07. SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems (S&AS) unveiled a model of its brand new tactical UAV Damselfy at the ParcAberporth Unmanned Systems event on 11-12th July. This new UAV is designed to be especially effective in specific circumstances where Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) is required due to restricted space for launch and recovery operations, for example from a ship, or in urban areas where similarly sized UAVs have not previously been able to fly. Damselfy combines Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) with a graceful transition to horizontal flight by means of a vectored thrust combined propulsion and lift system. Damselfly lifts and hovers on four pillars of air through independently directed nozzles co-ordinated by some extremely advanced avionics. This configuration enables Damselfy to have the hover capability of a hel