These scientists describe their UAV project at the South Pole. Sound familiar?

"Flying a mission is always a little scary. Tom, the project engineer and pilot, stands by with his remote control and flies it a little until a stable flight is acheived, then we engage the autopilot. The plane then turns and heads off into the distance, disappearing from view after about half a mile, and dropping out of radio contact with its computer base station after four miles or so. That part of the mission is the most scary, as we've nothing to do but wait for fifteen minutes biting our nails as the plane follows its plan.

We breath a sigh of relief when we regain the signal and see some coordinates on the screen, but only declare success once we've seen the machine, taken it smoothly back down to the snow, and downloaded the data its recorded."

Views: 280

Comment by Gary Mortimer on November 19, 2007 at 11:39pm
That must be a strong airframe, the way he's holding it by the tail there.

Looks very like a Dash8 an excellent aircraft in real life.

Also wonder how they keep the batteries warm.

Exciting times
Comment by paul hubner on November 20, 2007 at 8:35am
Now that is really cool !!


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on November 20, 2007 at 8:41am
Although it's hard to see, I think that plane is on a taught catapult cable, which is to the say that he's holding *back* the tail.

Comment by Sgt Ric on November 20, 2007 at 9:06am
The resemblance to a Q400 is probably accidental, although it does have the requisite high T tail and shoulder mounted wings.

Actually, now that I look at the silver decal above the nose, I realize it is not a visibility stripe, but a windscreen decal, so you may be right that it is a scale model of the de Havilland after all.

Comment by Sgt Ric on November 20, 2007 at 9:18am
Ya, the text mentions the bungee cable they use. Must be more substantial than any Hi-start I ever used. They're probably working in some extreme conditions, looks like.
We get -40 here a couple weeks every year, but I sure don't venture out with my R/C stuff in that.
The comment about the batteries is a very good question.

The few times I have flown in the snow, the R/X batteries couldn't be trusted for more than a few minutes. We had to warm a second 1200mah pack inside our jackets to revive them.
(completely diff problem than your previous article about the Predators in Iraq overheating!)

Comment by Gary Mortimer on November 20, 2007 at 1:34pm
Once I had also read the txt I got the bungee bit. Also thinking, blimey some hi start.

I flew a balloon up to 30k once and we had thought about keeping batteries warm so we put some of them in a foam beer cooler and broke a heat stick inside, that worked!!

I thought leaving the laptop in a case with the fan pumping its own heated air back from the cooling fan would be enough but the laptop stopped working just past 20k, working perfectly once it had heated up again.

It was about -42C when we topped out, but no wind chill. ;-)

Hats off (perhaps not) to those chaps working in that cold.

If they are getting useful data off such a small airframe then even better.

A beer in my local for the first person to identify the airframe.

Comment by rad man on November 23, 2007 at 3:40pm
That airframe HAS to be strong because those winds get really strong down there.....really strong.
Comment by rad man on November 23, 2007 at 3:48pm
A agree with the bungee theory because upon downloading and cropping and zooming i did find the cord!


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