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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Sea-Going Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

The UAV Blog posts on a Sea-Going Unmanned Aerial Vehicle?
The aerospace world is buzzing over a newly announced contract that could take unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to the high seas. And Geneva Aerospace, Inc., is providing the airframe and technologies for the demonstration of the Kingfisher Jr. by Vought Aircraft Industries, Inc.

Vought recently was awarded a $497,000 contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to investigate the feasibility of a sea-going UAV, which will be designed to take off and land on water.

Vought will modify Geneva's Dakota UAV for water operations, removing landing gear and adding floats, said Dave Duggan, vice president of business development for Geneva. The Dakota features a 16-foot wingspan and a 200-pound airframe, which was originally designed by Daedalus Research Inc., for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory as a rugged UAV test-bed. It has been used as a sensor test platform and surrogate vehicle for several research and development efforts, including autonomous operations exercised by the U.S. Navy.

In addition to the Dakota, Geneva is providing Vought with flightTEK(TM), its industry-leading flight computer developed specifically for UAVs. Geneva also will provide engineering services needed to adapt the flightTEK control system for use on the high seas.

"We're adapting our core guidance systems to enable a UAV to land on the open ocean," Duggan said. "The technology challenge is landing on the waves without harming the airplane. That requires integration of a sea motion sensing device to predict the movements of the water and choose a landing point on the back side of a wave -- without pilot intervention."

I'm a little fuzzy on why this type of UAV is needed. Any ideas?

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