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United States Government News Science Technology

U.S. Army Testing 3D-Printed Mission-Specific Drones (thestack.com) 33

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. army will conduct field experiments early in 2016 to test the feasibility of designing and 3D-printing military drones in direct response to specific operational challenges. The Army is working in conjunction with Georgia Tech's Aerospace System Design Labs in the next round of Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments (AEWE) to develop the responsive drone pipeline. Dr. Mark Valco, director of the Vehicle Technology Directorate says "Innovation is the key. We're demonstrating a capability, but we need to evolve design tools, higher-grade materials and the ability to print faster. Our researchers are continually looking for opportunities to enable these new capabilities."
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U.S. Army Testing 3D-Printed Mission-Specific Drones

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  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @03:30PM (#51543551) Homepage Journal
    Do they exist in the Cloud? Are they webscale?
    • It also is solar powered, and uploads video via a cloud-based webcam so people can watch as an eco-friendly, artisianally crafted from locally sourced renewable materials, hellfire missile blows op some filthy terrorists and/or innocent bystanders. It will also post to Twitter, default message "Another strike for freedom", and post a picture of the resulting crater on Instagram.

    • And does Elon Musk have any involvement?

  • by blueshift_1 ( 3692407 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @03:35PM (#51543579)
    We need to counter attack now, fire up the 3-D printer. *waits 18 hours to print*
    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      Really what do more do you need a drone to do they can already fly half way around the world kill a bunch of "terrorists" and then fly back half way around the world to where they started.

      I suppose you could give the machine full authority to decide what the target is fire at will and all that. That would probably save a bit of money not having to pay pilots.

      After reading TFA..

      Oh you mean those stupid little flying rc camera things. So they want one that has the flight time of an rc plane but they also want

      • The point of print-on-demand is that they don't know what they want ahead of time.

        Sadly, I think most of these design choices will be optimizing flight time vs capability, and if you bake the thing out of bespoke carbon fiber you'll probably get better flight time and capability than any option 3D printed with currently available materials.

      • This is just the BEGINNING. It illustrates that this is an actionable strategy in the works; not some empty brainstorming. It also means that this is a demo of the concept and if it works even slightly will be applied more broadly. Remember, the military is ok with buying really expensive things that don't even work at all for a few years or even that well after some of the kinks are worked out.

        Imagining a next gen carrier being a floating factory of drone fighters where they no longer need to maintain a

        • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

          First they were talking about those little rc planes/quad copters the media likes to call drones.

          As for the actual drones that carry missiles and such the us already has them stationed at 64 bases around the country from what I understand the one in Fort Worth, TX regularly flies them to Afghanistan and back. Who knows how many they just leave in flight at any given time.

          I don't see them replacing standard air carriers anytime soon but I'm sure we will see them adding drones to what they already carry withi

    • Obviously doesn't fit for a lightning response mission, but if you've got 72 hours to plan - this could give you an asset that might otherwise take months to develop. Also, designs can be proven in Omaha, or wherever, and then printed as needed in-theater. 5 million permutations of airframe design options, all available within 72 hours on-deck in the South China Sea.

    • Your tech tree sucks. Here, buy this. *click*

      "You require more vespene gas."...this will take awhile.

  • by The-Ixian ( 168184 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @03:36PM (#51543591)

    A story about 3d printers and bonus points for a drone mention.

    Minus points for not mentioning IoT, Windows 10 or back doors...

    Here is the perfect headline for you:

    "3d printed IoT drones running Windows 10 have secret back doors"

  • Déjà vu (Score:4, Funny)

    by U2xhc2hkb3QgU3Vja3M ( 4212163 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @03:53PM (#51543691)

    The army, building a factory that can make drones on demand.

    Do you want Skynet? Because this is how you get Skynet. /Archer

    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      No they are 3d printing custom parts to build customized rc planes.

      If they were actually building a automated factory like you imply TFA would have been worth reading.

      • Makes me think: if they were flying somewhat larger drones (100lb range), this could be used to print whatever breaks on demand. Breaking parts is a pretty common thing in planes that land without pilots in them.

  • Am I the only one who reads this and thinks being a combat drone engineer would be a really cool job? How cool would it be to have some new enemy strategy (submerged IEDs in swamps or something) and be assigned to design and build a new robot on the fly to tackle the issue (robosharks with fricking lasers, perhaps?)

    I'm just saying. Realism, practicality, and ethics aside - this would be a badass videogame.

    • "Am I the only one who reads this ..."

      Yes.

    • Am I the only one who reads this and thinks being a combat drone engineer would be a really cool job?

      Try Robocraft, it's a tiny little bit like that. You build bots and then battle them. Sadly, no transformers. (Yet? Probably not, but who knows)

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