Pentagon Seeks Laser-Powered Bat Drones
via Black Listed News.com
A new contest seeks flight systems inspired by Mother Nature and powered by directed-energy beams.
Tired: multi-rotor copters and fixed-wing drones. Wired: flying robots that move like living animals, are crafted of next-generation materials, and draw their power not from batteries but energy beamed from nearby aircraft.
On Wednesday, the the Defense Enterprise Science Initiative, or DESI, announced a competition for basic science grants to build “new paradigms for autonomous flight, with a focus on highly-maneuverable platforms and algorithms for flight control and decision making.” An accompanying Broad Agency Announcement gets more specific: basically, they’re looking for bat-like drones that can be powered with directed-energy beams.
“The biological study of agile organisms such as bats and flying insects has yielded new insights into complex flight kinematics of systems with a large number of degrees of freedom, and the use of multi-functional flight surface materials,” the announcement reads. The Air Force believes that more and more naturalistic design — coupled with more powerful and smaller sensors to form a better picture of the outside world — should yield “significant improvements in maneuverability, survivability and stealth over traditional quadcopter or fixed wing designs.”
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