Tag: UAV

Someone Is Losing Their Job

It appears that the shutdown of Gatwick airport may have been caused by police drones, and not some nefarious terrorist or prankster:

Some of the drone sightings which kept Gatwick Airport on lockdown for 36 hours may have been reports of Sussex Police’s own aircraft, the force’s highest-ranking officer admitted yesterday.

Police received 115 reports of sightings in the area surrounding the airfield, including 92 confirmed by Sussex Police’s Chief Constable Giles York as coming from “credible people”.

But the force launched its own drone to search for what officers believed at the time to be malicious aircraft deliberately being flown above the runway in the early hours of December 19 to intentionally force Gatwick to shut down.

Well, the behavior to this point DOES seem to reek of authorities covering up their own incompetence.

Gatwick was shut down for 3 days at the height of the holiday travel season, and if this turns out to be a police screw up, there will be hell to pay.

Not a Surprise

The head of the Pakistani Air Force has announced that they will be shooting down drones in their airspace, including US ones:

Pakistan Air Force (PAF) chief Sohail Aman said here on Thursday that he has ordered his force to shoot down any drones, including those of the US, if they violate the country’s airspace.
The announcement was made public about two weeks after a US drone strike targeted a militant compound in Pakistan’s tribal region near the Afghan border, killing three militants.

Pakistan had always condemned drone strikes on its soil but had never said they would shoot down the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). “We will not allow anyone to violate our airspace. I have ordered PAF to shoot down drones, including those of the US, if they enter our airspace, violating the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman told an audience in Islamabad.

If he meant that US missile strikes on militant positions were a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, then these violations have been occurring since 2004. The CIA was responsible for all US drone strikes in Pakistan until November 30, 2017.

Such is the price of unilateralism.

It works, until it’s can’t

Scary Tweet of the Day

DJI did a firmware update on a drone… while mid-flight 😬 pic.twitter.com/YDexjEViFc

— Internet of 💩 (@internetofshit) February 8, 2017

Of course, who cares about a lightweight relatively cheap drone.

Then again, what if this was a self driving car, or even the car that you are driving now? While you are driving it?

Tesla has already done over the air (OTA) updates on their cars, and while you may trust them, (I don’t) would you trust the creators of the Chevy Vega?

H/t Naked Capitalism

This is a Sign of Institutional Collapse

It turns out that the shortage of drone pilots in the US military is so unable to meet the basic training needs of even its drone trainers:

American military power in the 21st century relies on the mighty drone. The flying robots watch America’s enemies from the skies — and sometimes blow them apart with Hellfire missiles.

There’s a logic to using drones. Putting a robot in harm’s way is a lot better than putting an actual person in the same place.

America can always build another drone. It’s a lot harder to replace a good pilot.


he U.S. Army and the Air Force both need a lot of pilots and technicians to keep the drones flying — literally tens of thousands of people altogether — but it hasn’t been easy filling those job slots. Worse, the two branches started cutting corners during training, according to the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, a congressionally-mandated watchdog.

Often, the Army wasn’t even sure if its pilots were qualified to fly drones. On top of that, it was approving new flight instructors who haven’t finished their own training.


But the less obvious answer is that no one wants to pilot drones. It’s an awful job where a pilot — instead of sitting in a cockpit — sits inside a metal box in front of a computer screen for hours. Drone pilots are overworked, over-stressed and pissed off.

No wonder the Pentagon can’t find good pilots.

In May 2015, the GAO released its most recent report on the sorry state of America’s drone force. Concerned about drone pilots’ lackluster training, the agency talked to pilots and instructors and pored over the training logs and materials.

The findings were scary.

“Most Army [drone] pilots are not completing all of their unit training,” the GAO explained. Further, “the Army does not have visibility over whether [drone] pilots … have completed training.”


The Air Force was no better. The flying branch’s pilots were so overloaded that they don’t have time to finish required training.

“According to Air Force officials,” the GAO wrote. “Some Air Force UAS pilots have not completed their continuation training because they spend most of their time conducting operational missions due to shortages of UAS pilots and high workloads.”

More than equipment, more than any technological superiority, wars are won with training, tactics, and readiness.

Case in point, the F4F Wildcat, which achieved a 6:1 favorable kill ratio against the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, despite the fact that it was markedly inferior aircraft. (Slower, less maneuverable, etc.)

This was because of better training, situational awareness, and tactics.

And now our training infrastructure is breaking down.

An Inside Out Wankel

The 4 Stroke Cycle for This Engine

An animation, including P-V curves

A company called LiquidPiston has a new take on rotary engine technology, they have basically turned a Wankel engine inside out, which appears to have solved the apex seal problem while improving fuel economy.

It still has ports, instead of valves, so it’s also pretty simple:

Military and other operators prefer using kerosene, rather than gasoline, across ground and air platforms, but lightweight, reliable heavy-fuel engines for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have proved challenging to develop.

LiquidPiston, a startup developing a novel powerplant that is smaller and lighter than piston diesel engines and more efficient than gasoline engines, has been boosted by winning Sikorsky’s Entrepreneurial Challenge.

Developing multifuel rotary combustion engines based on its high-efficiency hybrid thermodynamic cycle (HEHC), the Bloomfield, Connecticut-based company has won $25,000 and the opportunity to explore applications for its X-engine on Sikorsky products.

“We are targeting our engine to be up to 10-15 times smaller and lighter than a piston diesel engine of similar power output, and up to 2-3 times more efficient than gasoline engines, especially at part-power,” says founder and CEO Alexander Shkolnik.

I think that the claims here are a bit much, but the shape of the combustion chamber is far less prone to the thermodynamic losses that bedevil the Wankel.

In a Wankel, apex seals on the triangular rotor move in and out at high speed during rotation. “The seals are impossible to lubricate, so they mix oil into the air, but 90% of the oil burns,” says Shkolnik. “In our engines, the seals are on the stationary housing and easier to lubricate.”

HEHC is a four-stroke cycle. The fuel/air mixture enters the X-engine through the rotor and is compressed and ignited. Constant-volume combustion increases efficiency. The combustion gases are then overexpanded before being exhausted through the rotor.

The overexpanded power stroke is similar to that used by the Atkinson Cycle engine used in the Prius to achieve higher fuel economy, though it appears that it does not share the rather low power density of the Prius engine (not an issue in a hybrid, as the electric motor supplies handles need for peak power).