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Georgia Tech researchers test drones at Benning

Jun. 7, 2013 - 11:04AM   |  
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COLUMBUS, GA. — Georgia Institute of Technology researchers are working with the military at Fort Benning to test the ability of drones to perform tasks that may help in reconnaissance missions.

Georgia Tech is performing experiments with the aircraft because the research university has signed an agreement with the Army to share technology, The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported.

With more than 225 miles of restricted airspace, Georgia Tech can perform tests at Fort Benning that it couldn’t conduct in metro Atlanta.

On Wednesday, a small Piper Cub aircraft loaded with special sensors and gadgets flew on auto pilot shortly after it took off Wednesday from a dirt air strip at the Army base. Three other miniature Piper Cubs and the Boomer UAS, a drone-type aircraft, were used as part of the tests.

The drone-type aircraft tested this week could help infantry soldiers look around a corner or on a roof top, said Harry Lubin, chief of the experimentation branch at the Maneuver Battle Lab.

“It would give us that advantage at the tactical level,” he said.

Charles Pippin, a research scientist at Georgia Tech, described controlling the aircraft as having an autopilot in the front seat and autonomous pilot in the back giving high level commands.

The control allows an unmanned aircraft to be guided with a pre-determined flight plan or given controls to change its course.

One task being tested is getting more than one aircraft to fly at the same time to complete a mission.

“They are both doing this autonomously without any help from the group,” Pippin said. “Another mission we are investigating is how these aircraft can exchange tasks with each other.”

In 2010, Pippin said Georgia Tech performed a demonstration with two aircraft searching for a target on the ground.

The first aircraft spotted the target and both circled the area and requested assistance from the ground.

“What we are investigating is how these systems can exchange tasks with each other and perform formation flights with each other and also dynamically perform teams,” Pippin said.

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