NRL-Developed Micro-UAV Named POPULAR SCIENCE 'Best of What's New'

12/18/2015 07:00 EST - 84-15r
Contact: Daniel Parry, (202) 767-2541

The small glider Close-in Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft (CICADA) developed by U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) aerospace engineers, Aaron D. Kahn and Dr. Daniel J. Edwards, has been named '2015 Best of What's New' by the distinguished science and technology publication, POPULAR SCIENCE.

CICADA 2015Winner of the 2015 POPULAR SCIENCE 'Best of What's New Award,' the NRL-developed Close-in Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft (CICADA) is a low-cost, GPS-guided micro disposable air vehicle designed for launch from manned or unmanned aircraft, balloons, or precision guided munitions. Essentially a flying printed circuit board, the micro-unmanned glider can be equipped with mission specific sensors and has an integrated rate gyroscope and GPS receiver for navigation and flight control of the vehicle.
(Photo: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory)

The CICADA unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is a low-cost, GPS-guided micro disposable air vehicle that can be deployed in large numbers. Having no source of propulsion onboard, the small craft is released from another airborne platform at altitude and the CICADA then glides to its destination. Its lack of a motor and small size makes it nearly undetectable in flight.

"Essentially a flying circuit board, CICADA is inherently stable in glide and is designed for launch from manned or unmanned aircraft, balloons, or precision guided munitions," Edwards says. "After deployment, CICADA glides to a waypoint, enters an orbit, and then descends within that orbit until it reaches the ground, typically landing with an average error of fifteen feet from the commanded orbit."

Having a 3.5 to 1 glide ratio, CICADA allows sensors to be deployed at very comfortable standoff distances. In the air, meteorological, chemical, or biological measurements can be taken, quickly sampling a large volume of the sky. Once on the ground, communication nodes will be established.

The POPULAR SCIENCE 28th Annual Best of What's New Award nominates ideas that are revolutionary, that transform their category, solve an unsolvable problem, and incorporate entirely new ideas, and functions, i.e., the product or technology must exist and must be demonstrable and testable.

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