Inside Unmanned Systems

JUN-JUL 2016

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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52 unmanned systems inside   June/July 2016 AIR, SEA, LAND DESIGN TREND Their offering, the Loon Copter, is based on a DJI Phantom 3, but has a larger bottom barrel that fills with ballast water. Once it sinks (only to a few meters for now), it turns 90 degrees and moves through the water. By ejecting its ballast water it can rise back to the surface and either skim along the surface—while holding sensors un- der water if desired—or take off back into the air. Like the Naviator and CR ACUNS teams, Loon Copter's makers see potential for search and rescue, environmental monitoring and inspections. The team won the International category in the UAE Drones for Good Award and $1 million USD to further develop the prototype. Inspired by Nature While the above three vehicles are roughly based on the same template—that of a multi- rotor VTOL vehicle—they're not the only am- phibious vehicles around. The Biorobotics Lab (BioRob) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne has, for years, been building amphibious ro- bots that crawl like salamanders. The BioRob's focus is on using these devices to study how real animals move, lab postdoc Behzad Bayat told Inside Unmanned Systems. But the technology also could pave the way to- ward service robots able to perform inspec- tions or search-and-rescue missions, especially in narrow, confined spaces. Salamandra Robotica II and its "sibling" robots Amphibot and BoxyBot are modular, with usually up to 10 body segments each 5 inches long and 3 inches wide, controlled by one "head" module. If it loses a segment, just like a real salamander, it can recover (and like a real salamander, the tail f lails around eerily for a minute or two). In the water, the robots behave like eels, which also has a practical purpose. Some eels, Bayat explains, can migrate 3,700 miles to spawn without eating anything on the way. "They go very slowly, but [with] a lot of energy conservation, they can still manage to do that," Photo courtesy of Oakland University The Loon Copter, developed at Oakland (Michigan) University, could be used for environmental monitoring and inspections. "IT CARRIES FEWER BATTERIES and still gives us the same amount of performance, which is huge." Richard Hooks, mechanical engineer, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab

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