The U.S. Navy Research Lab’s Tempest Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) may not be the mother of all drones, but it is the mother of two drones, at least. A Hoisted up to 53,000 feet onto a high-flying trajectory via releasable balloon, the Tempest UAV “gives birth” in flight, launching a pair of mini “Cicada” drones.
The tiny Cicadas are an exercise in efficiency, with their logic boards doubling as wings. The Cicada UAVs are gliders, complete with smartphone-like two-axis gyroscopes and GPS circuits for navigation.
Several variants have been produced. The Cicada Mark I can be launched by firing it from a gun into the air. The Cicada Mark III is designed with special wings for improved range and stability, and is the model used by Tempest “mothership”. Cicada stands for Close-In Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft.
See our predictions for 2012, reporters will have drones too.