A different kind of flying Cicada
The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory was at Xponential with several examples of its unmanned research programs, including the Cicada Mk 3 and Mk 4 UAVs visible here. CICADA Mark III UAV is a glider. It is generally dropped from high altitude and glides to its destination. In tests, it has been dropped from 57,000 ft and has averaged landing within 15 ft of its target when starting 30 nautical miles away.Its airframe is just a printed circuit board also serving as the autopilot, so the whole vehicle is rugged and inexpensive. The UAV can scale to accommodate various payload sizes and sensors. Also interesting is that the only flight sensors are a 5 Hz GPS receiver and a two-axis gyroscope. A software algorithm estimates wind speed and magnitude; there are no air data sensors on board.
The Cicada Mk 4 uses rigid-flex circuit board material as its airframe. Each one carries pressure, temperature, and humidity sensors and measures vertical wind profile during descent. Also onboard is a GSM modem for transmitting data back via cell phone connections. The device has a round shape because it is designed to be deployed from a size-A sonobuoy tube. Up to 50 drones fit in a tube. Planned uses include atmospheric research and distributed sensor networks.
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