Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The Pentagon wants to know if a swarm of drones can swoop in to help with hurricane relief
The next time a hurricane strikes Florida or Texas, relief may come from robots in the sky.
The Pentagon wants drones to transport supplies for disaster relief. And not for overseas disasters, but when bad things happen on American soil.
The Defense Logistics Agency recently put out a Request for Information on the feasibility of using drones "to provide disaster relief support on the East and Gulf Coasts of the United States."
That support includes items that victims of natural disasters need most: food and water. The Pentagon wants to conduct an experiment using off-the-shelf drones that can carry "payloads of 250-500 pounds to support warfighters deployed to assist with disaster relief efforts," according to the RFI. "Payloads shall be mechanically affixed to, and released remotely without damage from, the UAS and will typically consist of cases of 16.9-ounce bottled water as well as cases of Meals-Ready-to Eat (MREs) or other similarly packaged Operational Rations end items."
The RFI lists the dimensions of a case of MREs at 16 inches long x 11.5 inches wide x 10 inches high, and weighing 26 pounds. While the RFI does not specify the desired physical dimensions of the drone, the 250- to 500-pound payload requirement suggests an unmanned vehicle that can carry almost 20 cases of MREs or hundreds of bottles of water.
For purposes of the research project, the drone's range should be twenty miles. It must be capable of carrying supplies from ships to land – which would be coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard—returning to the ships, or hauling supplies from land to land. It must be able to "operate beyond visual line of sight, contain safeguards in order to meet or exceed DoD Cybersecurity standards, and operate in potentially austere weather conditions (wind/fog/heat/cold/light precipitation)." Demonstration flights will be conducted at the U.S. military's Warren Grove Gunnery Range in New Jersey, with the assistance of drone experts from the New Jersey Innovation Institute at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
The concept of a military disaster relief drone makes a lot of sense. When natural disasters destroy roads, rails and airports, it's often the U.S. military that has the capability to bring in aid. In this case, the research focuses on devising a system that can deliver supplies to the East and West Coasts, with the drones likely operating from Coast Guard vessels.
In addition, the Pentagon frequently participates in overseas humanitarian relief efforts such as the Haiti earthquake in 2010. Using drones to haul supplies, instead of wearing out manned helicopters and aircrews on repeated flights into ravaged areas, is more efficient. And if the conditions are hazardous, such as bad weather or armed looters on the ground, better to let the machines take the risk.
What's also interesting is the size of the delivery drone. In 2015, Australian drone company Flirtey made headlines when its helicopter-like machine made the first drone cargo delivery in the United States, bringing medicine from an airfield to a Virginia clinic. The drone that did it weighed just thirteen pounds.
The Pentagon wants an unmanned aircraft that can carry five hundred pounds. That sounds like a machine that is smaller than a missile-armed U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper, which carries almost four thousand pounds (and a cargo much less benign). In 2018, Boeing unveiled an eight-rotor robot copter that can carry five hundred pounds.
This article originally appeared on The National Interest.
More from The National Interest:
A soldier has died after a training accident in South Korea, during which a Bradley Fighting Vehicle he was in overturned.
According to a press release from the 2nd Infantry Division, 20-year-old Spc. Nicholas C. Panipinto died on Nov. 6 from injuries sustained during the accident at Camp Humphreys. Stars and Stripes reports that two other soldiers were injured in the accident.
A search is ongoing for a Camp Lejeune Marine who is wanted in Virginia on a murder charge.
The Franklin County Sheriff's Office in Rocky Mount, Virginia, said Monday they have issued an arrest warrant for Michael Alexander Brown, 22, for second-degree murder as well as use of a firearm in commission of a felony in connection with a Nov. 9 homicide.
Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.
The Marine Corps may one day launch crawling unmanned robots from ships to clear paths through deadly minefields for approaching assault troops to come ashore.
Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Lowe's committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace. Lowe's is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn More.
As a military-friendly employer, Lowe's has prioritized hiring military members, veterans, and military spouses while finding value in what they bring to the table. As Jennifer Nagy puts it, Lowe's is working hard to prove it deserves this title.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman should not fear retaliation over his testimony to the U.S. Congress in its impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Monday.
Vindman, now detailed to the White House National Security Council, has been targeted by Trump following his Oct. 29 congressional testimony. Trump tweeted that Vindman was a "Never Trumper witness," raising questions about potential fallout on his military career.
"He shouldn't have any fear of retaliation," Esper told a small group of reporters during a flight to New York, adding that he had reinforced the "no retaliation" message in a conversation with the secretary of the Army.