Feeds

Robo spy-zeppelin prototype in test flight

Loitering-peeper Pinky-Ponk droid gets high

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Vid An American firm has carried out flight tests of a prototype robotic spy dirigible, intended ultimately to lurk high in the skies for days carrying surveillance gear.

Needless to say, a vid was posted to YouTube in short order:

(Please check that you have Flash and your firewall is YouTube-friendly before commenting to the effect that it isn't there.)

The initial R&D testbed is eventually intended to become a fully-fledged droid zeppelin, able to cruise at 60 knots 15,000 feet up for better than two days. Such long "loiter" times are much prized in military intelligence and reconnaissance circles, and the L-15 design is also supposed to be able to lift a 1,000lb payload of surveillance peer-gear.

Former blimp pilot Paul Adams and ex-airforce colonel (and former Space Shuttle ground controller) Sandy Mangold run Airship Surveillance. The duo reckon they can get better performance than other zepp promoters because of their special gasbag tech sauce.

This appears to be partly a matter of the "optimally shaped" hard structure of their design, allowing air to flow smoothly along its whole length. The unusually large Pinky-Ponk* style tail prop apparently gives especially good fuel economy, too.

The planned full-size robo-skyship will not require the large ground crews of yesteryear, seemingly, as it will be especially manoeuvrable during berthing and takeoff - equipped with a bow thruster and semi-automated handling.

Water ballast will also be recovered from the engine exhaust during flight to compensate for burnt fuel, thus allowing the ship to be neutrally or negatively buoyant on landing without the need to valve off expensive helium. This last feature is actually something of a blast from the past, having been used on the US Navy's mighty 1930s flying aircraft carrier dirigibles - USS Akron and Macon.

Adams and Mangold reckon they could do you a manned ship, too, no trouble - but sadly for the moment their aspirations seem to be limited to military/securo loitering peeper platforms as opposed to splendid air yachts, skyliners, aerial warplane bases etc.®

Bootnote

*Those who lack small kids or an early-evening cannabis habit - and hence don't watch In The Night Garden - may not be familiar with the Pinky-Ponk. It is an apparently autonomous airship with a large tail-mounted propellor (and many little paddles, props, lights etc all over it) which flies about making farting sounds and occasionally carrying Makka Pakka and the rest of the cast about their obscure, mildly hallucinogenic business.

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
ALIEN BODY FOUND ON MARS: Curiosity rover snaps extraterrestrial
And NASA kept evidence to itself for over a month
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
NASA: ALIENS and NEW EARTHS will be ours inside 20 years
ETs, habitable planets will soon pop up with our new 'scopes
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.