Soldiers got a chance to see first-hand a new technology that may be available to them soon when going out on future missions.
Army engineers have created a process for converting soldier mission needs into a 3-D printed on-demand small unmanned aircraft system (ODSUAS).
The progress that’s been made with ODSUAS was showcased last month at Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments (AEWE) at Ft. Benning, Georgia. With this new technology, the Army will be giving troops the ability to create 3-D printed drones for recon missions in a hurry, the fea reported.
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, turns digital 3D models into solid objects by building them up in layers. There are things that cannot be printed, however, such as, propellers and small motors.
John Gerdes, an engineer with the US Army Research Lab, told ARL-TV: “…3-D printing has become huge and everybody knows all the great things that can be done with 3-D printers. So we figured let’s assemble these two new technologies and provide a solution to soldiers that need something right now and don’t want to wait for it.”
Gerdes and his team members say the timeline to receive a mission-custom UAS fits right in line with the way soldiers plan and execute their missions.
Soldiers will input all their requirements into the mission planning software, the system will work out all the optimal configurations, and the aerial vehicle would be printed and delivered within 24 hours.
There are still some aspects of the 3-D printed drones that will have to be improved, however.
Project Manager Eric Spero says based on feedback from Army leaders, his team still needs to work on “low noise, long standoff distance, heavier payload capacity and better agility.” Spero says most of these goals are achievable, but added, the biggest challenge will be the heavier payload.
According to ARL, Army engineers will continue to collaborate with partners at the Georgia Tech’s Aerospace Systems Design Lab to refine technologies for future soldiers.
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