Spy Robots

Imagine a drone which can stick to the walls, fly, and proper itself out from the water and can also securely land when required. A drone which can easily fit in the palm of your hand – sounds amazing right? People have this fear that robots are now becoming similar to humans, however, they’re actually becoming more bug-like each and every day. A group of researchers from Harvard University proved that the robot flight is basically copying small bugs that were there on the ceilings and walls.

There’s a wide range of applications for similar robots, ranging from tiny spying devices which can be used to conduct surveillance missions, to scientists using them to go where no sensors can reach. Till the time when robots will be in the air, hovering can take as much energy as flying can. Additionally, a new study published that considerable energy can be saved if we plan on using tiny robots which can simply land and rest between jaunts. It’s similar to how a bee might land somewhere after taking off again.

When we use the word robot, we’re not talking about some terrifying robots from the movies or directly from the future. Instead, we’re talking about creations like RoboBee. This drone was made by Harvard John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Due to the advancements in technology, this device can stabilise on the surface of water before an internal combustion engine will ignite to let it fly and bring it back in the air.

RoboBee was launched in Southern California in Los Angeles and weighs around 75 grams.

The major concern that was faced was the unknown weight of the actuators and how to make them flap. Scientists then came up with a new and improved design called ‘unimorph’ which depended on a single strip of piezoelectric material which would contract and expand while a current is passed through it.

This approach offered various advantages in terms of the dimensions, weight, control, aerodynamics and construction.

There is only one downside to the RoboBee – it’s basically not a drone because it depends on a tether as a source of energy. However, once the battery tech comes in line with the nano-scale robotics, the drone could work on its own perfectly.

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Drone Warfare

You may have heard of drones being used at weddings and ceremonies to capture the most memorable moments. You may have even come across news of drones being used to deliver supplies to those in need.

Combat Device

However, there is another major application of drones. Also called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), drones are frequently used in combat. Typically, these combat machines are used to carry missiles and execute strikes.

Drones are usually under human control in real time, although the level of autonomy can vary from one case to another. They are beneficial for combatants because no pilot is on board, which means there is no collateral or casualties if the drone is shot down.

In principle, the operator runs the drone from a remote location. The equipment that a pilot would utilise is not needed, which means that the drone is considerably lighter than a manned vehicle would be.

The United States, Israel and China are generally considered as industry leaders when it comes to drone technology and the art of implementing them in warfare.

History of Drones

Although it may seem that drones have come to the fore in recent years, their first use can be traced all the way back to the 19th century, when Austrians employed hot air balloons to bomb Italian cities without using pilots.

As soon as the Wright brother made a significant breakthrough and pioneered the first aircraft, work on pilotless planes began in earnest. While remote controlled planes were in development during the First World War in 1914 and 1918, unmanned vehicles were also being researched extensively.

It was at that time that the term drone was being thrown around. The United Kingdom created the Queen Bee, which was a plane that was regulated using a radio from the ground. This vehicle was designed for target practice, similar to most unmanned appliances at the time.

In the decades following the Second World War, countries realised the need for innovation and making headway in combat devices. It was in the second half of the 20th century that drone technology witnessed a revolution of sorts.

First, it was the Israeli aviation team of the 70’s that established an aircraft which operated similar to how a glider would. This unmanned vehicle was capable of flying for more than 24 hours at a stretch. This became the basis of drones and even to this day, these vehicles take inspiration from the design produced by Israel.

The next advancement came in the 90’s when transmitters were attached to drones. This meant that footage could be recorded and transmitted to operators on the ground. This was used to devastating effect by NATO commanders and expedited the signing of the Dayton peace accords.

Another imperative improvement was made at the turn of the century by the United States once again. They were able to fasten missiles to drones as the CIA began their pursuit of Osama Bin Laden, the most wanted man on the planet at the time.

Laser Cannon

The arms race may be escalating quite quickly and intensely, after the public acknowledgment that Russia has developed missiles and laser weapons that are ready for service, Russia posted a video in July 2018 which showcased a laser death weapon, and they have recently announced that it has officially entered service. Here is all you need to know about the Peresvet Combat Laser System, which is essentially a laser cannon, and how Russia plans on using it.

The Peresvet Combat Laser

Just recently, Russia announced that the Peresvet Combat Laser System has officially entered service and now has been permanently installed. The inspiration for the name Peresvet comes from the ancient Russian monk warrior named Alexander Peresvet. The video that Russia released back in July, which openly shows the unveiling of the laser, is said to be able to obliterate targets in a fraction of a second. Not much else is known about the laser cannon itself and thus, many people have speculated that it will not be used to kill people, but will actually be used for defence against enemy missiles and airplanes. It definitely looks like it is straight out of a movie though.

A Boastful Putin

Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia has been boasting about this laser cannon/death ray by saying, “Russia’s capacities for defending itself have multiplied.” Putin also boasted about the fact that laser weaponry, “is not just a concept or a plan any more. It is not even in the early production stages. Since last year, our troops have been armed with laser weapons.” He also taunted those against Russia in the arms race that, “We are one step ahead of our rivals,”

Is This The Start Of A Whole New Arms Race?

The implications of this cannon are far more deadly than they might seem. The death machine of which we do not even know the full details of will probably be used for more than just defence. The US is now threatening to pull out of the INF treaty as they claim the development of this laser cannon violates the treaty. However, Russia is retaliating and saying they are following all the conditions specified in the treaty. Putin also showed his concern over the fact that the New START pact between the US and Russia will expire in 2021 and that the US is not keen on discussing the future of the pact.

Real or Fake?

Some have even speculated that this laser cannon is not all that it is hyped up to be. The speculations stem from the fact that the laser cannon was announced during a press conference that was also hosting the launch of many other overly-hyped weapons. People also claim that Russia has previously lied or not been completely honest about their new technologies and that there is no evidence whether the cannon actually works as it claims to (since the video never showed it firing).

All we can hope for is that Russia and America stay true to their agreement and talk it out before deciding to fire on each other.

Pak-Da Stealth Bomber – Russia’s Incredible Design

Having designed many of the stealth bombers that are currently being used by Russia, Tupolev Design Bureau was the natural choice for the country’s new proposal. The Pak-Da will be a strategic bomber meant to revolutionise wartime aviation.  The meaning of Pak-Da is aviation complex for long range aviation and the Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, in a television announcement made reference to the fact that this will be an entirely new design of stealth bomber, which is being created to replace both the turbo-powered Tupolev Tu-95 and supersonic Tupolev Tu-160.

Aircrafts that are used in war are frequently upgraded, as our technology gets more advanced. The aim of the Russians in developing the Pak-Da is to keep up with and even surpass the US military, focusing specifically on their B-21 stealth bomber design. In April 2013, the design was finalised and the construction of a prototype began. If everything goes according to the country’s plan, the prototype’s first flight is expected in 2019. Production of the aircrafts that the country will use should then begin in 2020, and be fully integrated into the military between 2025 and 2030.

Even though the bomber’s full design has yet to be revealed and will probably remain vague until the prototype is completed, a few of its components have been shared. In March 2013 the Russians announced that the aircraft’s design would include a subsonic flying wing, meaning that the bomber would be able to fly at subsonic speeds as well as use advanced types of supersonic speed, including hypersonic. This would allow the Pak-Da to arrive at any place in earth’s atmosphere within two hours.

Other aspects of the bomber’s design, continuously curvature shapes and radar absorbent outer materials, will enable the aircraft to fly into space from the upper atmosphere. This will mean that two engines and two fuel tanks will be necessary, in order to facilitate the transition from earth to outer space. One of the current engines being used is a variant of the NK-32 (used on the Tu 160), a suitable design, which will facilitate the burning of jet fuel in earth’s atmosphere where the Pak-Da will use oxygen to fly. When the aircraft has entered space it will make the shift to using its own oxidiser, and will then be propelled by oxygen and methane.

Other features that may be included in the design are:

  • The ability to fly outside the range of any interceptor
  • A combat radius of 3500 km
  • A loaded weight of between 100-120 tonnes
  • The use of avionics
  • A 30 tonne weapons payload
  • A range of 6740 nautical miles

The Russians seem to have thought of everything that will make the Pak-Da surpass any other stealth bomber currently available, and with the help of the Tupolev Design Bureau they are well on their way to achieving this.

Military Technology That Changed The World

The Crossbow

The crossbow was invented in China but developed into a significant weapon in medieval Europe. With a mechanism for holding the drawn bow until it was ready to release, it propelled arrows with tremendous force over 350 yards. The crossbow allowed soldiers to fire from great distances and avoid close contact with the enemy. Swords, which had to be used at close range, were no match. Continue reading “Military Technology That Changed The World”