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AUVSI: Lockheed Martin shows off Samarai

16th August 2011 - 22:18 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


The first public flight of the Samarai UAS, which resembles a 'winged seed', or samara, such as the seed of the maple tree, was conducted at Unmanned Systems North America on 16 August.

Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technologies Laboratories revealed the existence of the UAS at last year's conference, but could only show video of the system. Since then the team behind the design has continued to develop the UAS, which has its roots in biological design.

'There have been big improvements in the UAS, William Borgia, Director, Intelligent Robotics Laboratory told Shephard. 'We've been improving the control for stability and streaming video.'

Unlike a traditional aircraft the Samarai only has one control surface. That coupled with varying the power is the only way to guide it in flight. 'The only way we can do that is with intelligent control technology as a human operator wouldn't be able to control it,' stated Borgia.

Borgia believes a Samarai type UAS could have a number of applications. One possible use would be for urban surveillance. The design also means that the UAS could be dropped from altitude and auto-rotate in to position.

Although the current system has been developed largely so that the company's scientists can look at the issues of this type of control Borgia acknowledged that it would be possible to spin the UAS out in to a real product. 'We've been talking to other divisions in the company about its possible use,' he said.

Looking at the further development of Samarai Borgia said the design team would look at scaling the technology down. 'I'd like us to be able to do as well as nature can,' he added. However, shrinking the system down to the 5cm scale of a maple seed changes the control dynamics.

The Shephard News Team


The Shephard News Team

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