Monday, July 31, 2006

Robotic aircraft competition flies on technology's edge

Fort Benning, Georgia(US): As soldiers fired bursts from M-16 rifles at an urban warfare training site, a group of college students gathered on the edge of a small runway nearby to demonstrate the latest advances in aerial robotics, an emerging technology that could save lives in combat or natural disasters.
Some of the diminutive aircraft resembled the single-engine model planes flown by hobbyists on weekends, but they were packed with computer gadgetry, video cameras and satellite guidance systems. Others were miniature helicopters. And some were totally out of the box, such as a yellow, four-propeller craft resembling a hovercraft -- a creation of students at the College of Engineering in Delhi, India.
All of them were programmed to accomplish their tasks on their own, without any remote-control manipulation by human controllers.
Sponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International of Arlington, Virginia, the competition attracts college students from around the world who design and build the planes flown during the annual three-day competition at Fort Benning.
31/07/06 Elliott Minor/The Associated Press/Pittsburgh Post Gazette, US
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