Feeds

US Navy robot kill-choppers to drop auto-snort podules

Suspect sailors' crack sniffed out by droids

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The US Navy has awarded funds to develop a self-contained remote electronic sniffer unit which could be delivered to the holds of suspect vessels by a robot helicopter to detect "chemical, explosive, and illegal drug residues".

The Fire Scout robo-chopper in sea trials

Soon with droppable remote drug-sniffer bugs.

VIASPACE Inc, which spins off technologies from NASA, was pleased to announced today that its subsidiary company Ionfinity has won a $786k phase II deal from the US Navy Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programme. Ionfinity will now be expected to demonstrate a working "Miniature Electronic Sniffer for Navy Vertical Take off Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (VTUAVs)" within two years.

The USN is already well down the road to developing the robocopters themselves. The "Fire Scout" unmanned helicopter - also expected to see service with the US Army and possibly Coast Guard - has already had successful hands-off deck landing trials at sea, and operational testing is scheduled for next year aboard the frigate USS McInerney.

Fire Scouts can be fitted with various payloads including radars, electro-optical scanners and various kinds of weapons including "Advanced Precision Kill" smart rockets and "Viper Strike" glider smartbombs.

It now appears that the droid choppers will also be able to drop or lower automatic podules of some kind onto suspect merchantmen. The sniff units will be "completely self contained with respect to power and communications" and able to relay their findings back to the mother ship independently. They'll be able to detect drugs, explosives or other chemical residues of interest within seconds, apparently.

"This new sensor will change the paradigm used for future chemical detection and analysis, making it much more convenient, sensitive, selective and timely," said Ionfinity chief James Weiss.

The remote auto-snorto device will feature "soft-ionization" micro gas chromatograph tech spun off from gear developed by NASA for exploring Mars. It's possible that the whole robocopter ship deployment idea is inspired by the madly complex retro rocket sky-crane system NASA will use to land its new rock-sniffing droid tank on the Red Planet. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
China hopes home-grown OS will oust Microsoft
Doesn't much like Apple or Google, either
Super Cali signs a kill-switch, campaigners say it's atrocious
Remote-death button bad news for crooks, protesters – and great news for hackers?
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?