Feeds

Israelis build floating electric hover platform

Only snag: Needs to be plugged in on the ground

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Israeli war-tech engineers are planning to build electrically driven hover platforms which would float like balloons tethered to ground- or vehicle-mounted energy sources by long power cables.

The Electric Tethered Observation Platform (ETOP). Credit: IAI

Uh-oh! Power cut!

Flight International reports that the machines have been dubbed electric tethered observation platforms (ETOPs), and stay aloft on vertical thrust delivered by electrically-powered ducted fans.

Apparently an ETOP will need no operator or pilot to keep itself airborne, and it can stay up more or less indefinitely provided power is maintained to the tether umbilical. It can cope easily with being towed around by a base station mounted on a ground vehicle, or alternatively maintain position above a fixed base.

The ETOP being developed initially has a payload of up to 20kg and is able to lift this and its power tether to heights of up to 100m. Israel Aerospace Industries, developing the ETOP, told Flight yesterday that 10 test flights have been carried out and two prototype craft are in operation. The firm expects to have the system ready for employment as of 2011.

ETOPs would presumably be used mainly as surveillance and communications platforms, offering line-of-sight over a larger area than a base or vehicle could normally command. They should be close to silent in operation themselves, though there would normally need to be an engine or generator running at the bottom of the tether if grid power was unavailable.

If successful, such platforms might be a rival to tethered aerostat balloons, currently in use for similar purposes by several nations. An ETOP would be much less conspicuous than a corresponding aerostat, but would demand a lot of power. Its biggest weakness would seem to be the comparatively heavy tether, which would be likely to restrict operating altitude badly.

The Flight report is here. There's more on the ETOP from IAI here; the company expects to exhibit the machine at next month's Eurosatory expo in Paris. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
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?
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.