The Army Has Developed A Tiny Flying Squirrel Drone For Some Reason

Gear
Postdoctoral researcher Dr. Steve Nogar holds his prototype hybrid unmanned aerial vehicle that may deliver advantages to Soldiers on future battlefields.
Army photo by David McNally

The Army Research Laboratory is exploring a number of new autonomous vehicle, but none are quite as silly — or as potentially useful — as this new drone modeled after a flying squirrel. Why? You may ask. Because it can transform mid-flight.


Unlike other drones, this one will be able to land itself, conserve power, and gather intel. It will also be intelligent enough to detect walls, avoid obstacles and rapidly learn its environment.

Weighing in at half a pound, this drone focuses on one thing: weight. Normally, “to get this type of vehicle, you take a quadrotor and basically staple it to a fixed-wing aircraft,” according to Dr. Steve Nogar, a researcher with the Army Research Laboratory. “But it’s not very efficient.”

His model, the flying squirrel, helps to cut down on that weight and explores a drone’s ability to transform in mid-flight. “[It] tilts its rotors to go from hovering like a helicopter to speeding along like a sleek airplane,” according to an Army release.

This particular drone joins the ranks of a number of autonomous craft meant to modeled after animals. The Navy introduced a drone called the GhostSwimmer, which looks exactly like a bluefin tuna and performs reconnaissance missions at depths of up to 300 feet. And DARPA produced the Nano Air Vehicle, which mimics a hummingbird and scouts battlefields.

"Looking forward, we want to look at perching or landing on something in the environment," Nogar said. "That means we have to be able to sense the environment."

In addition to designing more efficient flying capabilities, Nogar is focused on the aircraft’s intelligence.

"If you're going to land on something, you need to know very quickly how fast that's coming up to you as you come in to land," Nogar said. "We will need to enable the UAV to sense and perceive its environment using visual techniques such as machine learning."

This whole project sounds ridiculous, but it’s oddly perfect. After all, Rocky was a flying squirrel, and he and Bullwinkle were instrumental in foiling the spies of Soviet satellite nations in the 1950s. This seems like a logical 21st century solution.

Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials are warning soldiers and military families to be aware of scammers using the Exchange's logo.

In a news release Wednesday, Exchange officials said scammers using the name "Exchange Inc." have "fooled" soldiers and airmen to broker the sale of used cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and boat engines.

Read More Show Less

KABUL (Reuters) - The Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed responsibility on Sunday for a suicide blast at a wedding reception in Afghanistan that killed 63 people, underlining the dangers the country faces even if the Taliban agrees a pact with the United States.

The Saturday night attack came as the Taliban and the United States try to negotiate an agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. forces in exchange for a Taliban commitment on security and peace talks with Afghanistan's U.S.-backed government.

Islamic State fighters, who first appeared in Afghanistan in 2014 and have since made inroads in the east and north, are not involved in the talks. They are battling government and U.S.-led international forces and the Taliban.

The group, in a statement on the messaging website Telegram, claimed responsibility for the attack at a west Kabul wedding hall in a minority Shi'ite neighborhood, saying its bomber had been able to infiltrate the reception and detonate his explosives in the crowd of "infidels".

Read More Show Less
U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Brian Kimball

Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Calling aviation geeks in New York City: The British are coming.

In their first visit to the United States since 2008, the Royal Air Force "Red Arrows" will perform an aerial demonstration next week over the Hudson River, according to an Air Force news release. F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels demonstration teams will also be part of the show.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Air National Guard/Staff Sgt. Michelle Y. Alvarez-Rea

Frances and Efrain Santiago, natives of Puerto Rico, wanted to show their support last month for protesters back home seeking to oust the island's governor.

The couple flew the flag of Puerto Rico on the garage of their Kissimmee home. It ticked off the homeowners association.

Someone from the Rolling Hills Estates Homeowners Association left a letter at their home, citing a "flag violation" and warning: "Please rectify the listed violation or you may incur a fine."

Frances Santiago, 38, an Army veteran, demanded to know why.

Read More Show Less
Todd Rosenberg/AP

A West Point graduate received a waiver from the U.S. Army to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday, and play in the NFL while serving as an active-duty soldier.

The waiver for 2nd Lt. Brett Toth was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, who said that Toth signed a three-year deal with the Eagles. Toth graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 2018.

Read More Show Less