AUVSI 2013 was in Washington D.C. this year and there were record crowds but it seems a little light to me. The very limited military attendee presence may have had something to do with that feeling. Sequestration has hit military trade shows hard.
Figure 1. Bird Aerospace’s Bird’s Eye fits into a canister that is shot into the air where it explodes and the flying wing assembles itself in a second. The autonomous drone then flies away.
It did seem to stop the vendors who were harking their wares and there was a lot of new and a lot of old at the show. For example, Liquid Robotics had their Wave Glider on display (see Waterborne Robots Stir Up Waves At AUVSI 2013). We saw the original last year (see Wave Glider Wave-Powered Marine Robot – AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2012) and I had written about their new model, the SV3 (see Supercomputer Robot Cluster Sails Into The Sunset), that can be part of a large floating computing cluster.
We saw a number of remotely operated vehicles (ROV) and autonomous robots in action(see AUVSI 2013 at EngineeringTV.com video playlist) but most were on display at the booths where they had limited mobility. It is still not nice to have them flying around. One that was only a demo/prototype that would have been neat to see in action was the Bird’s Eye UAS (Fig. 1) from Bird Aerospace (see Exploding Drones And More At AUVSI 2013).
The Bird’s Eye is a single use UAV that is contained within a canister. The canister is launched and has small explosive charges that open the canister and eject the aircraft that self-assembles with the help of additional charges. The autonomous electric UAV then heads out on a predefined course. The recovered UAV needs to be sent back to the factory for repackaging.
Foam and carbon fibers were in lots of designs like UAVER’s Swallow and Avian drones (see UAVER “Swallow” and “Avian” Carbon Fiber UAVs). Some bungie cords help launch the Swallow and a parachute is used for recovery.
Copters were getting bigger and badder with octorotors a common theme for heavy lifting(see AUVSI 2013 Copters Sport Lots Of Props). There were plenty of quadrotors especially smaller ones but more rotors means more lift and more stability. Some are already being used for shooting movies.