Posts Tagged ‘unmanned’
The largest iron-ore mine in Australia will take a leap in efficiency starting next April: 10 automated trucks, one remote driver.
With demand from China and other steel-hungry industrializing economies rising, the massive trucks—programmed to haul ore and waste around the pit using the global positioning system—are part of a push by Rio Tinto PLC to to adopt automated technology to cut costs and ramp up production even in the face of a labor shortage.
Traveling precise routes around Yandicoogina mine and operating 24 hours a day, the trucks will be under the supervision of a single worker in a portable office at the mine, backed up by a control center in Perth that oversees all of the company’s 14 mines, as well as its rail lines and ports, in the distant Pilbara region of Australia’s northwest.
Rio Tinto, which last year said it didn’t have enough truck drivers, drillers or locomotive drivers, is alone among the major iron-ore producers in the Pilbara to adopt the experimental technology. But the Anglo-Australian company says it is confident the autonomous trucks, trains and drill rigs it is testing are creating efficiencies and helping it meet aggressive output targets.
Rio Tinto has been giving the automated trucks a trial at another mine, West Angelas, since late 2008, using five of them to haul waste. It said Wednesday it plans to double its fleet and deploy the trucks to Yandicoogina, where they will carry not just waste but the valuable ore.
“There’s nothing weirder than seeing one of these giant trucks with no driver in it,” said Karen Halbert, a spokeswoman for the company. “They even honk their horn before they back up.”
Mexico has admitted that American unmanned drones operate over its territory, but denied that it constitutes a violation of its sovereignty.
Har. Send a copy of that memo to Pakistan!
U.S. Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles have been used to collect intelligence and track drug traffickers, but only under Mexican supervision, according to a statement by the technical secretariat for the Mexican National Security Council.
“Each of these actions is undertaken with full respect to the law,” the statement says…
The flights had been kept secret “because of legal restrictions in Mexico and the heated political sensitivities there about sovereignty,” The New York Times reported.
1. So what changed?
2. When will the joint committee supervising the flights ask that they be armed with missiles?
The UK-built Zephyr unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has confirmed its place in aviation history as the first “eternal plane”.
The solar-powered craft completed two weeks of non-stop flight above a US Army range in Arizona before being commanded to make a landing.
The Qinetiq company which developed Zephyr said the UAV had nothing to prove by staying in the air any longer.
It had already smashed all endurance records for an unpiloted vehicle before it touched down at 1504 BST (0704 local) on Friday…
Zephyr took off from the Yuma Proving Ground at 1440 BST (0640 local time) on Friday, 9 July.
After only 31 hours in the air, it had bettered the official world record for a long-duration flight by a drone; but then it kept on going, unencumbered by the need to take on the liquid fuel that sustains traditional aircraft.
Clear skies at 60,000ft delivered copious amounts of sunshine to its amorphous silicon solar arrays, charging its lithium-sulphur batteries and keeping its two propellers turning.
At night, Zephyr lost some altitude but the energy stored in the batteries was more than sufficient to maintain the plane in the air.
Zephyr is set to be credited with a new world endurance record (336 hours, 24 minutes) for an unmanned, un-refuelled aircraft – provided a representative of the world air sports federation, who was present at Yuma, is satisfied its rules have been followed properly.
One more step in a lot of right directions.
The Ministry of Defence has unveiled its prototype unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV)…
Defence Minister Gerald Howarth said it was a “truly trailblazing project” and featured “the best of our nation’s advanced design and technology”. The aircraft is due to begin flight trials early next year.
Named after the Celtic god of thunder, Taranis is the first step in the development of unmanned strike aircraft, capable of penetrating enemy territory. Unmanned aircraft carrying weapons are already used in service, such as the MQ-1 Predator which carries Hellfire missiles, although these are only suitable for use where the airspace is under allied control.
“This is the next generation of combat aircraft and flight trials will begin next year,” Sqn Ldr Bruno Wood told BBC News. “It’s a technology demonstrator that could be used as a testbed which may form further potential solutions to the RAF,” he added.
The issue of “writing the pilot” out of the aircraft equation has long been a controversial topic, more so since the first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) went into active service…
Peter Felstead, editor of Jane’s Defence Weekly, told BBC News that the development of UAVs paralleled the development of the first manned aircraft during World War I.
“First they were used for reconnaissance, then they were armed for bombing and ground attack missions and they eventually became air-to-air combat craft,” he said.
“This is the first step for the UK. This isn’t an aircraft that will go into service, it’s a tech demo, but it will prove technologies, demonstrate capabilities and inform the direction we [the UK] are going in.”
They might have called it the Terminator, eh? We know how they turned out.
Wonder what DARPA is doing down this alley?
NASA pilots and flight engineers, together with colleagues from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have successfully completed the first science flight of the Global Hawk unpiloted aircraft system over the Pacific Ocean. The flight was the first of five scheduled for this month’s Global Hawk Pacific (GloPac) mission to study atmospheric science over the Pacific and Arctic oceans.
The Global Hawk is a robotic plane that can fly autonomously to altitudes above 60,000 feet — roughly twice as high as a commercial airliner — and as far as 11,000 nautical miles — half the circumference of Earth. Operators pre-program a flight path, and then the plane flies itself for as long as 30 hours, staying in contact through satellite and line-of-site communications to the ground control station at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California’s Mojave Desert.
“The Global Hawk is a revolutionary aircraft for science because of its enormous range and endurance,” said Paul Newman, co-mission scientist for GloPac and an atmospheric scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. “No other science platform provides this much range and time to sample rapidly evolving atmospheric phenomena. This mission is our first opportunity to demonstrate the unique capabilities of this plane, while gathering atmospheric data in a region that is poorly sampled.”
GloPac researchers will directly measure and sample greenhouse gases, ozone-depleting substances, aerosols, and constituents of air quality in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere…
The aircraft can then take off, fly its mission, and land without any additional pilot or scientist intervention. Though the plane is designed to fly on its own, pilots can change course or altitude based on the atmospheric phenomena ahead. Researchers also have the ability to command and control their instruments from the ground.
Truly an advancement. Saving on weight and life support for a pilot and/or crew alone is worth an enormous increase in range and duration of research flights.
RTFA for lots more detail – and direction of research.