12/12/2020

The first 9 attempts to retrieve swarming Gremlins drones failed

The first 9 attempts to retrieve swarming Gremlins drones failed. Here’s what’s next – link

Source: Defense news

Article Headlines
  • During a series of flight tests that started Oct. 28, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency made nine attempts to recover three X-61A Gremlins Air Vehicles in flight. Each failed, the agency said in a news release, which characterized the effort as “just inches from success.”
  • The tests marked the first time DARPA has attempted to recover the Gremlins drones — made by Leidos subsidiary Dynetics — via a capture device mated to the same C-130 that deployed the air vehicles
  • During a successful recovery, the C-130 would lower a docking bullet that helps stabilize each vehicle from the turbulence generated by the C-130. Once in place, an engagement arm would grab the X-61A and drag it into the C-130′s cargo bay
  • However, during the October tests, the Gremlins drones were never able to mechanically engage with the docking station because the “relative movement was more dynamic than expected and each UAV, ultimately, safely parachuted to the ground,” DARPA stated
  • Over three flights, each X-61 flew for more than two hours, allowing DARPA to further validate the drone’s ability to operate autonomously. The agency also collected “hours of data” that will help it to understand aerodynamic interactions between the Gremlins drone and the capture device, which program officials will study to understand how the system needs to be modified
  • DARPA will then attempt to fly and recover the Gremlins drones this spring
  • Eventually, DARPA wants to demonstrate that it can safely and reliably launch and recover four Gremlins drones within 30 minutes
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