Nathan Hodge, Wired.com
November 26, 2008
A Pennsylvania National Guard unit will get a new toy before it deploys to Iraq in January — an odd-looking robotic aircraft, sometimes referred to as “the flying beer keg.”
Designed by Honeywell, the gasoline-powered Micro Air Vehicle, or gMAV, is designed to be a “hover and stare” drone that can loiter over urban canyons, providing surveillance for small units on the ground. The recon keg uses ducted-fan technology to float through the sky.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Designers have also added a gimbal-mounted sensor so the gMAV’s remote video camera can scan the scene without rotating in mid-air.
The Army describes gMAV as a “precursor” to one of the drones being developed for the Future Combat Systems modernization program; it’s supposed to be part of a package of robotic technology that will “spin out” to the force before the full complement of FCS equipment is developed. But it could be more properly described as a “spin-in”: As Noah has noted previously, variants of the flying ‘bot have already seen service with NavyÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â bomb technicians, who used the machines to look for roadside bombs in Iraq. The MAVs originally began as a project of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; only later were they folded into the Future Combat Systems.
According to the Army, only 10 troops from the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the Pennsylvania National Guard will be selected for a course on operating the gMAV; once in Iraq, they’ll teach other soldiers how to tap the keg.
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