Tech

February 5, 2014

Dryden’s DROID demonstrates autonomous UAS-to-UAS air tow

With the 1/3-scale sailplane already in the air, the DROID tow plane rotates for takeoff from the dry lakebed, both controlled by their pilots with radio controllers in the background.

 
Engineers at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center chalked up another first for the center recently when they flew a scale-model sailplane that was towed aloft by one of NASA’s small Dryden Remotely Operated Integrated Drones – DROID for short.

The January flights of the two small unmanned aircraft were intended to validate systems and procedures and to reduce risk en route to a full-scale demonstration of the innovative Towed Glider Air-Launch Concept demonstration.

The flights marked the first time the DROID towed another aircraft into the air and the first autonomous towed flight ever at NASA Dryden.

The DROID and the glider were flown from the north end of Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in both remotely controlled mode by pilots using standard model-airplane radio controllers and autonomously via a pre-programmed autopilot. Flight objectives included validation of the towing technique, tests of the tow release system and autopilot, transition from manual to autonomous flight and demonstration of the remote pilot’s ability to fly the glider from a ground-based cockpit using visual input transmitted from a miniature video camera on board the aircraft.

“The flights were primarily flown to evaluate the research pilots’ ability to control and position the glider under tow behind the DROID, and also to evaluate the performance of the flight avionics and video systems on the DROID and the single fuselage glider that enabled the piloting task,” said TGALC project manager Gerald “Jerry” Budd.

The 1/3-scale unmanned sailplane shows off its graceful high-aspect-ratio wing as it descends for landing during preliminary flight tests of the Towed Glider Air-Launch Concept.

The DROID flew nine flights during the tests, five of which towed the sailplane into the air. Budd said about 85 percent of the goals for the preliminary flight evaluation were accomplished.

Additional flights using the sub-scale conventional single-fuselage glider and lessons learned during the initial flights will pave the way for the next phase of the project, which will involve towing a custom-made twin-hulled sailplane model representative of the proposed TGALC configuration.

A long-time aerospace engineer who is currently a business development manager in NASA Dryden’s Advanced Planning and Partnerships Office, Budd initiated the concept of optimizing launch of small space satellites from a glider towed aloft by a powered aircraft as a much cheaper alternative to present-day launch methods. NASA Dryden’s Center Innovation Fund supports the small-scale project.
 

While operations engineer and Dryden model shop technician Red Jensen prepares to mount the canopy over the subscale sailplane’s avionics, model shop intern Derek Abramson prepares the DROID tow plane for the day’s UAS-to-UAS Air Tow demonstration.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines April 1, 2015

News: Iranian aircraft buzzed U.S. Navy helo in Persian Gulf - An Iranian aircraft buzzed a Navy helicopter operating in the Persian Gulf earlier this month, a U.S. military official said March 31. Active duty suicides up in 2014 - Suicides among active duty members of the military increased in 2014, though reservists and members of the...
 
 

News Briefs April 1, 2015

Germany, France, Italy plan to develop military drones Germany and France plan to work together with Italy to develop military surveillance drones that could also carry weapons. French President Francois Hollande said after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel March 31 that it is important for Europe to be independent in both manufacturing drones and in...
 
 
Northrop Grumman photograph

AirRobot, Northrop Grumman Remotec sign distribution agreement for unmanned aerial systems

Northrop Grumman photograph An AirRobot unmanned aerial system flies at Fort Benning, Ga.. Northrop Grumman Remotec is the sole reseller of the systems to law enforcement and first responders under a distribution agreement sign...
 

 

Raytheon awarded $528 million AMRAAM contract

Raytheon has been awarded a $528,797,459 fixed-price incentive, firm target contract modification for Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles. Raytheon will provide AMRAAM Lot 29 missiles and other AMRAAM system items. This contract involves foreign military sales. Work will be performed in Tucson and is expected to be complete by January 2018. This award was booked...
 
 

Raytheon, DRS team for Army’s third Generation IFLIR B-Kit

Building on their combined platform integration experience, Raytheon and DRS Technologies have entered into a teaming agreement for the U.S. Army’s 3rd Generation Improved Forward Looking Infrared program B-Kit “Raytheon and DRS have teamed to provide an IFLIR solution that provides our military supremacy in reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition,” said Dr. Taylor...
 
 

U.S. Air Force awards Raytheon $91.5 million for MALD-J

Raytheon Company received a $91.5 million U.S. Air Force contract modification award for the Miniature Air Launched Decoy Jammer missile. The contract modification is for Lot 8. Work will be performed in Tucson and is expected to be complete by June 2017. This award was booked in the first quarter 2015. MALDÆ is a state-of-the-art,...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>