Feeds

Israelis build floating electric hover platform

Only snag: Needs to be plugged in on the ground

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
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.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.