Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Announce Plans To Attempt First Unmanned Flight Across The Pacific Ocean

Date:
October 23, 2000
Source:
University Of Washington
Summary:
Researchers at the University of Washington and The Insitu Group this week announced plans to attempt the first unmanned flight across the Pacific Ocean. The transpacific attempt, a journey of more than two days, will likely be flown next summer or fall by the team's newest minature robotic airplane, an autonomously flying craft small enough to fit inside a minivan.

October 20, 2000 -- Researchers at the University of Washington and The Insitu Group this week announced plans to attempt the first unmanned flight across the Pacific Ocean.

The transpacific attempt, a journey of more than two days, will likely be flown next summer or fall by the team's newest minature robotic airplane, an autonomously flying craft small enough to fit inside a minivan. The attempt follows the UW and Insitu's historic first flight across the Atlantic Ocean with a robotic aircraft in 1998.

"This is the next logical step," said Juris Vagners, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the UW. "This will demonstrate truly long-range performance for miniature robotic aircraft, and readiness to enter service in offshore weather reconnaissance and other applications."

The announcement was made at the Kirsten Wind Tunnel on the UW campus, where the airframe for Insitu's new "Seascan" aircraft was undergoing tests. Seascan is similar in size to the old "Aerosonde" line that made the transatlantic crossing, weighing in at 29 pounds. But it's much different in appearance. The Seascan has a 4.5-foot fuselage, a 10-foot wingspan and no tail.

"It looks like a tube with wings," said Tad McGeer, president of Insitu, a small firm located in Bingen, Wash., which has been working with UW on robotic aircraft for several years. "It is designed especially for ship-based reconnaissance. It has to be practical for shipboard launch and retrieval, and while onboard it must fold easily into a box. That drives the aerodynamic design."

Seascan will offer new capability for commercial fishermen, oceanographers, the military and others looking for an economical way to find out what's going on in the ocean around them.

Seascan also features new technology that will significantly boost performance over the Aerosonde. "We can make a Seascan version capable of flying much farther than our transatlantic demonstrator," McGeer said. "We can fly across the Pacific."

In the 1998 demonstration, an Aerosonde flew 2,000 miles from Newfoundland to Scotland in 26 hours 45 minutes on 1.5 gallons of fuel. The Pacific crossing will begin in Asia and end in Washington state, skirting south of the Aleutian Islands, a distance of approximately 5,000 miles. The flight will take more than two days.

The aircraft are autonomous in flight, navigating via a GPS system. The user simply specifies waypoint coordinates, airspeeds and altitudes, and then launches the aircraft. During the Atlantic flight, researchers lost contact with the Aerosonde after it flew over the horizon and had to wait, in suspense, until re-establishing contact near Scotland. During the Pacific crossing the group plans to keep tabs on progress via satellite.

The ability to fly such long distances opens the door to better weather prediction. Miniature robotic aircraft can provide an inexpensive method of gathering meteorological data on a large scale.

"We have good data over land, but not over oceans because there is no lower altitude instrumentation there, only satellite and airliner measurements" Vagners said. "You could use manned aircraft, or you could deploy a ship with weather balloons, but that's prohibitively expensive. Using miniature robotic aircraft will be a very affordable alternative."

Researchers and students at the UW and Insitu are ramping up engineering work. Trials are expected to begin in spring, with the transpacific attempt in summer or early fall.

More information about the transpacific attempt can be found at http://www.aa.washington.edu/research/aerosonde/pacx/index.html and additional information about Seascan is at http://www.insitugroup.com/Seascan.html.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Washington. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Washington. "Researchers Announce Plans To Attempt First Unmanned Flight Across The Pacific Ocean." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 October 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/10/001022201945.htm>.
University Of Washington. (2000, October 23). Researchers Announce Plans To Attempt First Unmanned Flight Across The Pacific Ocean. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/10/001022201945.htm
University Of Washington. "Researchers Announce Plans To Attempt First Unmanned Flight Across The Pacific Ocean." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/10/001022201945.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Google Teases India Event, Possible Android One Reveal

Google Teases India Event, Possible Android One Reveal

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) — Google has announced a Sept. 15 event in India during which they're expected to reveal their Android One phones. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) — Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) — Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) — Chinese researchers have expanded on Cold War-era tech and are closer to building a submarine that could reach the speed of sound. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins