Silent Falcon: the New Long-Distance Solar-Powered Electric Surveillance Drone
By Madison Ruppert
The fact that there are military bases across the United States from which drones can and will be operated from combined with the fact that military drones are already being used in concert with law enforcement is disturbing enough.
It just gets worse when we consider the mind-bending future of drone technology, the ability to use lasers to keep drones airborne indefinitely and the constantly growing surveillance capabilities including threat assessments and facial recognition.
A new drone has been unveiled by Silent Falcon UAS Technologies, out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, which utilizes proprietary advancements in a wide variety of systems in order to create “a tactical UAS [Unmanned Aerial System] and sensor system with capabilities that exceed any UAS in its class,” according to Silent Falcon’s press release.
The drone was first shown at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, which occurred from August 6-9, 2012.
Silent Falcon UAS Technologies is collaborating with a company called Bye Aerospace out of Denver, Colorado on this project in an attempt to create a compact, tactical drone which is “man-portable,” meaning small enough to be carried by a soldier or operative.
They are seeking to create this system in order to carry out “longer duration intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.”
The Silent Falcon drone leverages what appears to be a pretty impressive variety of unique and advanced technologies including new electrical propulsion systems and new systems to capture, store and manage solar energy.
Furthermore, the Silent Falcon will leverage cutting edge electro-optical and infrared sensors – systems which are an absolute must-have on an advanced surveillance platform like this – along with advanced target identification and tracking systems.
It will also employ unique capabilities for target image and data capture and transmission in order to out-perform any similar drone, at least according to the company behind the Silent Falcon.
“After over two years of development, we are excited to bring this extraordinary sUAS [small Unmanned Aerial System] to market,” said John Brown, the CEO of Silent Falcon UAS Technologies.
“We believe we have introduced truly disruptive technological innovation to the sUAS market, and are proud to introduce Silent Falcon, the UAS that embodies the latest aerospace, electronic and sensor technologies to enable it to ‘Fly Silent, Fly Longer and See More,’” added Brown.
The CEO of Bye Aerospace, George Bye, indicated that it is the combination of all of these groundbreaking technologies in a single drone that makes it so remarkable.
“The synergy of several new technologies made this remarkable solar/electric drone possible,” said Bye.
“Research results are confirming breakthroughs in a very quiet aircraft and unprecedented electric flight persistence,” he added.
If this can indeed result in persistent drone flight – perhaps combined with the laser technology mentioned above – we could very well see drones conducting surveillance non-stop.
One must also wonder if this type of technology could also be combined with the silent drone technology currently being pursued by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA) in their Great Horned Owl Program.
Whatever direction this technology goes, military or commercial, it shows just how much the field is moving forward with surprising alacrity.
For people like me who are concerned about the privacy impact of the widespread use of drones, this type of small, solar-powered drone is hardly comforting.
This article originally appeared on End the Lie
Japan creates prototype for world’s first giant boarding armed robot
August 13, 2012 – TOKYO – A massive robot that can carry a seated human pilot – and is armed with twin Gatling guns – has gone on show in Japan. Kuratas is described as the world’s first giant boarding robot, no doubt inspired by the ‘mechs’ of Japanese anime and manga comic book culture which features human controllers inside a walking vehicle. But Kuratas is different in that it offers two types of control system. The robot can be piloted directly or remotely by a user connected to a 3G device such as a laptop, tablet or Smartphone. The firm that made the robot, Suidobashi Heavy Industry, even released a tongue-in-cheek video showing how to operate the robot. It was unveiled to the world at the Wonder Festival in the Tokyo suburb of Chiba. Kuratas, which is referred to as the Vaudeville project in a promotional video, has two humanoid arms and four wheeled legs – and twin six-barreled Gatling guns – which fire BB-sized pellets at the rate of 6,000 rounds per minute. According to Suidobashi, the weapons are fired when the operator smiles – a system known as ‘the smile shot.’ Onlookers immediately likened the presence of the guns to the bipedal ED-209 from Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 movie Robocop. The device, which travels at just 7mph, can be set to move in a low or high position to enhance the pilot’s field of view. It also features a Lohas launcher – which fires bottles of water – and Iron Crow hands and ‘feet.’ The robot is huge – measuring four metres in height and weighing four tones. But it also comes with a suitably huge price tag, setting potential purchasers back $1m (£637,000). However, anyone wanting to buy one of the custom-built machines does have a choice of colors – including pink.
Japan creates giant boarding robot prototype with mock weapon systems in tongue-in-cheek video
Exoskeleton firm foresees future of bionic enhancements for everyone
By Alex Rayner, The Guardian
Sunday, August 12, 2012 18:00 EDT
On a weekday morning in June, 50 people gather at the launch of a new technology shop in a science park outside Cambridge. Dubbed a “store opening” by its hosts, the US firm Ekso, it is quite unlike most retail events. There are no shelves, tills, or counters; no free samples or catalogues.
Instead, Ekso suggests that guests – about a quarter of whom are in wheelchairs – might try out one of its devices, in conjunction with the private physiotherapy firm, Prime Physio. Then, in months or years to come, the wealthier among them could walk away with some of Ekso’s kit.
“Technology is reaching the point where those who have been disabled can be re-enabled,” says Andy Hayes, Ekso’s managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in his address. A slide of the bionic superhero Iron Man pops up on an accompanying PowerPoint presentation.
Ekso Bionics has produced the first ready-to-wear, motorised exoskeleton to be made commercially available in Britain. Called the Ekso, this battery-powered robot suit enables paraplegics to stand and walk.
Though this technology is at the forefront of the field, the Ekso is not the first of its kind. British disability campaigner Claire Lomas completed the London Marathon earlier this year using an Israeli-made ReWalk suit; Össur, the Icelandic prosthetics firm that makes the South African athlete Oscar Pistorius’s carbon-fibre legs has a line of electrically powered feet and knees; Honda produces a lightweight device for users with minor walking difficulties.
Yet Ekso is notable not only for its technology and the price tag (£100,000 for the exoskeleton which it hopes to lower to £50,000 within the next two years), but its ambitious plans. It sees a time when able-bodied users will be strapping on machines too. In an age when Tony Stark’s exoskeleton tops the box-office charts in Avengers Assemble, and Pistorius competes in both the Olympics and Paralympics, Ekso thinks there’s a demand for robotic suits that not only aid disabled people, but enhance the abilities of everyone.
The firm’s CEO, Eythor Bender, has said he believes exoskeletons are “the jeans of the future”, offering assistance with manual labour. “Shipyard workers could probably only hold a 10kg angle-grinder for a couple of minutes,” says Hayes. “Whereas if they had a bionic suit, they could work for hours and reduce costs.”
Indeed, Ekso’s target market is wide open. In 2005, it produced the Exohiker, a bionic walking aid that allows ramblers to trek with heavier loads. In 2009 it developed and licensed a bionic hiking device, the Human Universal Load Carrier, to US defence firm Lockheed Martin. Next year it will launch a product aimed at people recovering from strokes.
Theoretically, Ekso’s suits could find all sorts of uses. In practice, their applications are more limited. We watch as 24-year-old Suzanne Edwards dons the device and takes a few steps. Edwards had been a surfing instructor until she suffered a spinal cord injury in January 2011. She is delighted to be able to rise from her chair and walk. However, two of Ekso’s staff have to guide her movements, and it’s hard to see how it could replace her wheelchair permanently.
Ekso doesn’t claim to offer a simple fix for paralysis. Yet it does believe that regular exercise in the suit could help in other ways, such as increasing bone density, improving bladder functions, and aiding weight loss.
However, not everyone in the audience is convinced. Dr Roger Fitzwater was a general practitioner for 25 years until he broke his back in a building accident two decades ago. After the Ekso event he explains his misgivings. “It’s a fantastic piece of engineering,” he says, “and clearly a work in progress.” Yet he still feels Ekso’s emphasis on getting wheelchair users to walk again is misplaced.
“What people don’t understand is that once you’ve become accustomed to your paraplegia, walking isn’t very important,” says Fitzwater. “If you’re in pain, that’s the most important thing. Then its bladder function, then bowels, then sex, then body image.”
“When you see what robotics can do, it’s moving forward very fast. I can see it getting a lot better, and having applications in other fields. It’s great that they produced it,” he adds. “But at the moment it’s only for people with big compensation payouts.”
There are many reasons to suggest that exoskeletons won’t catch on. Yet as technology progresses and prices drop, the bionic age appears to be beckoning. So, why shouldn’t a firm like Ekso make a suit to aid paraplegics? Or a suit for office workers to commute in? Or indeed, a suit for soldiers, runners, and anyone else who has the means and ambition to augment their body? With every passing month, in the field of bionics, the “why not?” question is getting harder to answer.
For further information, visit eksobionics.com
Filed Under: SCIENCE & TECH
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