Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Troops Build Their Own UAVs
Strategy Page ^ | May 23, 2005 | James Dunnigan

Posted on 05/31/2005 11:48:06 PM PDT by strategofr

Troops in combat zones are eager to get their hands on robotic vehicles, but the supply is limited. Fewer than a thousand UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and UGVs (unmanned ground vehicles) have been sent to Iraq so far. So the troops have been improvising. Radio controlled (RC) cars and aircraft are readily available from hobby stores, or their web sites. Items can be sent via air freight to Iraq. The high end RC trucks cost several hundred dollars, but can be controlled from as far away as 200 meters. These are often carried by troops on convoy duty, for checking out items on, or alongside, the road that might be bombs. Just shooting at these objects doesn’t always set them off. But run an RC car up to it, and ram the object, and you quickly know if it is heavy (and possibly a bomb), or light (and likely just some garbage.) These vehicles can also be equipped with wireless video cameras, perfect for checking out what’s around the corner. RC aircraft, especially the high end ones that cost $500 or more, can also, with some effort, be equipped with a wireless vidcam. However, using off-the-shelf equipment, your transmission range is only a few hundred meters. Most RC aircraft can be controlled up to 500 meters away, and with more expensive commo gear, nearly twice that. But troops have gotten their own improvised UAVs into the air (and sometimes shot at as well.) The army calls these efforts “field expedients,” and they are one reason why the army (and the other services as well) are scrambling to get official versions of this gear into the hands of the troops. The government issue stuff is often little different than what the hobbyist troops are coming up with. The military versions are more expensive because they have to be built so that any soldier can quickly figure out how to use them. That takes a lot of effort, and runs the costs up. But for units that have some RC hobbyists in the ranks, you can make your own, crude but effective, recon UAVs for under a thousand dollars. The official versions cost $20,000 or more.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: cary; improvising; iraq; miltech; uav; ustroops
Is this cool or what? Anyone with kids (or knowlegeable about toys) want to make any other suggestions how toys might be used by our troops?
1 posted on 05/31/2005 11:48:07 PM PDT by strategofr
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

I'll make a bunch for $500 each to send to the troops in Iraq... if the Gov't pays me $20,000 each... lol


2 posted on 05/31/2005 11:51:19 PM PDT by oolatec
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: strategofr
Perhaps a bit too advanced for most, but cool nevertheless: Autopilot: DIY UAV | Build your own UAV (developing an autopilot for a RC helicopter)
3 posted on 06/01/2005 12:10:50 AM PDT by anguish (while science catches up.... mysticism!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: strategofr
The military versions are more expensive because they have to be built so that any soldier can quickly figure out how to use them. That takes a lot of effort, and runs the costs up.

Making a model plane easy enough for a child to operate: $500, retrofitting with controls that your average flag officer can understand: $19,500.

4 posted on 06/01/2005 12:22:08 AM PDT by jz638
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: jz638

LOL!


5 posted on 06/01/2005 12:30:26 AM PDT by strategofr (What did happen to those 293 boxes of secret FBI files (esp on Senators) Hillary stole?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: anguish

"(developing an autopilot for a RC helicopter)"

How would such a program navigate (would it have sensory input? GPS?)


6 posted on 06/01/2005 12:33:33 AM PDT by strategofr (What did happen to those 293 boxes of secret FBI files (esp on Senators) Hillary stole?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: strategofr

Model planes aren't exactly easy to fly around, they take a decent bit of training to know how to fly them and at best they may get 15 minutes of air time before the fuel is out. Landing is the hardest part of the whole job. Most of that additional cost probably goes into making military tough stuff that doesn't need much training to do at all. I saw an article posted here about just that a couple days ago. Apparently the planes are controlled by a laptop and its just point and click, with some light training in landing them.


7 posted on 06/01/2005 12:33:35 AM PDT by krakath
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: krakath

"Landing is the hardest part of the whole job."

Sounds like a lot of these planes will never have to worry about that part. If needed, couldn't they just land in a bunch of pillows, or something?


8 posted on 06/01/2005 12:35:56 AM PDT by strategofr (What did happen to those 293 boxes of secret FBI files (esp on Senators) Hillary stole?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: strategofr

From what I've read about the project earlier (they're re-organizing the project and website after a dormant year), they relied on GPS, accelerometers and gyros for flying and navigating. I think they used pocket PC's with 802.11 wireless LAN for communication with the UAV.


9 posted on 06/01/2005 12:46:06 AM PDT by anguish (while science catches up.... mysticism!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: strategofr
It is a good approach when there is no access to UAVs or UGVs. It is limited in capabilities, but a cheap substitute that will perform certain dangerous tasks.

You may also be interested in this article below, which was written at the same time when that article you mentioned appeared on Strategy Page.

DefenseTech - RC TOYS VS. IEDs
10 posted on 06/01/2005 12:48:23 AM PDT by Wiz
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: strategofr

This is what you call COTS :)


11 posted on 06/01/2005 12:50:16 AM PDT by Wiz
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: jz638

I wish you would have ended it with the "... Priceless" commercial gag.


12 posted on 06/01/2005 12:54:21 AM PDT by Wiz
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: strategofr
Another cool link - the guy on the RC Heli project apparently works at a company that sell ready-to-fly UAV's. You need to have plenty of spending money to buy one of those though, prices start at $15.000.

Rotomotion (with video snippets)

13 posted on 06/01/2005 1:14:47 AM PDT by anguish (while science catches up.... mysticism!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: strategofr

The latest Make uses a Balloon and a still camera. I think it would be very easy and cheap to convert those over to a digital camera. Interesting ideas though.


14 posted on 06/01/2005 1:18:36 AM PDT by Skeeve14 (De Opresso Liber)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: strategofr
A way cool demonstration of the average American's ingenuity.

People get pretty clever when circumstances demand, especially when circumstances indicate you may get your rear end shot off.

I've been donating used paperbacks and cash for miscellaneous items to our fighters. Perhaps rounding up all those annoying little electric gizmo's the neighborhood kids run all over the place will help our troops, and let me get some additional morning sleep.
15 posted on 06/01/2005 3:03:12 AM PDT by mmercier (Beneath the onrush of the deathless gods)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: All

Dragon Eye (DE) Interim-Small Unit Remote Scouting System (I-SURSS)

Dragon Eye (DE) Interim-Small Unit Remote Scouting System (I-SURSS)

Developer: Office of Naval Research (ONR) Science & Technology (S & T) Project under development by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in conjunction with the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL)

System Description: The Dragon Eye is being developed as a small, fully autonomous, back-able, hand launched UAV to provide the Marine Corps an “over-the-next-hill, or building” tactical reconnaissance and surveillance capability. Dragon Eye’s operating altitude is between 300 and 500 feet above ground level, and has a video link range in excess of 5 kilometers. The aircraft’s payloads are capable of real-time high resolution day color, and low light black/white imagining. Dragon Eye’s electric motors provide an extremely low noise signature, and the small wingspan make it very difficult to detect. The air vehicle’s battery provide up to 60 minutes of flight time, and the aircraft has a flight weight approximating 5 pounds. The air vehicle can be assembled and launched by a two man team in approximately 10 minutes. The aircraft is programmed via a seven pound rugged-ized handheld computer which is capable of flight planning, flight monitoring, and storage of air vehicle transmitted video. The aircraft’s flight profile is GPS waypoint guided, each waypoint allowing for various linear, and orbiting search patterns and altitudes. The aircraft’s flight profile has the ability to be updated or changed in flight.

System Capabilities:

Wingspan: 45 inches
Length: 35.75 inches
Weight w/payload: 5 pounds
Range: 5 kilometers
Endurance: 30 – 60 Minutes
Cruise Speed: 35 knots
Mission Altitude: 300 to 500 feet AGL
Navigation: GPS/Autopilot
Payloads: Interchangeable day and low light EO imagers

Program Summary: DE is being developed for employment by a Marine Company or smaller unit to provide a real time tactical reconnaissance capability. Anticipate transition from ONR S&T to DoD ACAT during FY02. PEO(W) and MCSC are dual MDA’s with PMA 263 as PM and MCSC as the IPT Lead.

Dragon Eye (DE) Interim-Small Unit Remote Scouting System (I-SURSS)

 

16 posted on 06/01/2005 3:06:42 AM PDT by Flyer (http://www.freerepublic.com/perl/post)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: strategofr
Good indication of the State of military readiness of American troops when off the shelf toys compete with our troops supplies.

From a Nation that could fight two major fronts to one that has to use toys to fight Arabs... Arguably the most backwards savages on the planet.

Bring our troops home from around the world. We have some R and D and re outfitting to do. Let the Iraqi people rebuild themselves from their own oil.
17 posted on 06/01/2005 4:33:43 AM PDT by American in Israel (A wise man's heart directs him to the right, but the foolish mans heart directs him toward the left.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: American in Israel
Bring our troops home from around the world.... Let the Iraqi people rebuild themselves from their own oil.

I suppose we could just call all of the sacrifice up to now a complete waste, and just hand Iraq back over to Saddam and his terror weenies.

I can think of no greater disrespect for those who have given so much.

But then, maybe the United States should be run out of Brussels too. We all know that the Europeans, with all of their sophistication and intellect are good at avoiding the loss of skyscrapers. /Sarcasm off.

18 posted on 06/01/2005 5:12:58 AM PDT by Tom Bombadil
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: American in Israel
"Good indication of the State of military readiness of American troops when off the shelf toys compete with our troops supplies."

Yes, actually it is. As we said back when I was in the Army ...
Adapt and Overcome, Soldier!

Our troops are innovating on the fly and civilians want to jump to rediculous conclusions because we get to see it all on the news?

"From a Nation that could fight two major fronts to one that has to use toys to fight Arabs... Arguably the most backwards savages on the planet."

That's a very "glass is half empty" kind of statement. We're so advanced that we can even combat them with our TOYS!

Alot of people need to go back and read their history. Our public schools are failing us if we have the idea that this kind of innovation and improvised adaptation is new. Invention on the fly has taken place in just about every war in history.

Doesn't anyone remember our boys cutting up the anti-tank obstacles from the Normandy beaches and welding them onto the front of their tanks as hedgecutters?!? Let's be just a little bit pragmatic here instead of emotionally over reacting to every one of these stories in the media please.

19 posted on 06/01/2005 5:31:14 AM PDT by FreedomHammer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: American in Israel

I just wonder why the bad guys haven't figured out how to do the same. If it's cheap and effective, they could easily build their own UAVs.


20 posted on 06/01/2005 6:50:23 AM PDT by gregwest
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: FreedomHammer

I believe you left one out.....

Adapt, Improvise, Overcome......






Semper Fi


21 posted on 06/01/2005 7:01:05 AM PDT by halfright (9/11 3,000 Americans MURDERED...close the borders!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: mmercier

"I've been donating used paperbacks and cash for miscellaneous items to our fighters. Perhaps rounding up all those annoying little electric gizmo's the neighborhood kids run all over the place will help our troops, and let me get some additional morning sleep."


LOL! Well, its worth a thought. How about an email address posted by the Army or Marines where people could send their ideas for using home made products. Hints from Hellfire-loise. One interesting fact. The US armed forces used to require that everything issued to the troops was produced by the gov't. now, they query troops for off-the-shelf products they want, and then shop at Wal Mart, etc. for them.


22 posted on 06/01/2005 7:52:46 AM PDT by strategofr (What did happen to those 293 boxes of secret FBI files (esp on Senators) Hillary stole?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: halfright
"I believe you left one out.....

Adapt, Improvise, Overcome...... "

LOL! Of course the Marines have to make it more dramatic (though a bit redundant). :D

We poor Army slobs just used the shorter version (at least the ones I know) ... it seems easier to shout at someone that way.

23 posted on 06/01/2005 7:59:43 AM PDT by FreedomHammer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: FreedomHammer

I have to be careful...I sat there for a minute thinking" whats wrong with that line?"

I'm on long term narcotic pain relievers and sometimes I have to read things 4 or 5 times to fully comprehend intent. :-)

Marine, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Police, Fire, EMS all the same....Hero's of America....

Bad apples in every crate......including ours {:^)

Semper Fi


24 posted on 06/01/2005 8:17:44 AM PDT by halfright (9/11 3,000 Americans MURDERED...close the borders!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: strategofr
Sounds like a lot of these planes will never have to worry about that part. If needed, couldn't they just land in a bunch of pillows, or something?

Heck, they don't even have to do that.

Take some camo netting and string it up between a couple of net supports and fly the plane into the netting.

No muss, no fuss.

25 posted on 06/01/2005 8:24:27 AM PDT by VeniVidiVici (In God We Trust. All Others We Monitor.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: FreedomHammer

Of course the moron, left out Army.....Sheez

Dad was in Army Air Corps.....

As I said...we're all on same team


26 posted on 06/01/2005 8:24:57 AM PDT by halfright (9/11 3,000 Americans MURDERED...close the borders!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: strategofr; Cindy

Neat article.


27 posted on 06/01/2005 8:28:03 AM PDT by Jet Jaguar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: halfright
No blood, no foul, halfright. I knew what you meant.

Some of my best friends are Marines, and we rib each other all the time.

... and our team is second to none.

28 posted on 06/01/2005 8:39:05 AM PDT by FreedomHammer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: VeniVidiVici

"Take some camo netting and string it up between a couple of net supports and fly the plane into the netting."

Thanks. I knew I wasn't quite "getting" it.


29 posted on 06/01/2005 2:21:01 PM PDT by strategofr (What did happen to those 293 boxes of secret FBI files (esp on Senators) Hillary stole?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: Jet Jaguar

"Neat article."

Thanks.


30 posted on 06/01/2005 2:22:27 PM PDT by strategofr (What did happen to those 293 boxes of secret FBI files (esp on Senators) Hillary stole?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

Comment #31 Removed by Moderator

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson