SMALL - espritmodel.com SMALL - Telemetry SMALL - Radio
Reply
Thread Tools
Old Dec 10, 2012, 06:13 PM
FPV Racer - N4FPV
Eddie James's Avatar
United States, GA, Kennesaw
Joined Sep 2009
858 Posts
Discussion
Military Drone Flight Technology

I haven't really seen a big discussion here about how the military drones fly long and far. So hopefully some of you folks that know more about the technology could chime in and educate the rest of us.

Here are a few starter questions:

1) For flight control are they using satellites?

2) If the answer to 1 is yes, will that type of control be commercially available to a bunch of flunkies like us in the public sector one day? If so, should Futaba and JR be shaking?

3) How do their drone navigation video systems work? Is the video going to a satellite and then to the plane and back? Is there any lag?

4) Just like we have the GPS's in our cars now that were once only military, is there a day coming when we will have satellite control of our FPV craft?

Thanks for any input on this.
Eddie James is offline Find More Posts by Eddie James
RCG Plus Member
Latest blog entry: CavCam, Inc.
Reply With Quote
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Old Dec 10, 2012, 06:42 PM
Registered User
Ceros007's Avatar
Montreal, Québec, Canada
Joined Apr 2010
1,471 Posts
This is military stuff, protected, controlled goods and NATO. You wont find a lot of info
Ceros007 is offline Find More Posts by Ceros007
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 10, 2012, 06:51 PM
Registered User
benderfly's Avatar
Joined Sep 2007
762 Posts
I was a military contractor for NAVAIR and I know a bit about the systems. Suffice it to say that what we have now in the hobby originated from military technology. But the idea that we will be flying FPV on a global scale is a bit far fetched. Too many societal issues to allow this. So we will more than likely be using regulated radio transmissions for control and data/vid/aud.

That being said, lots of press last week about the Navy tests of the fully autonomous UAV. They are now testing it to land on aircraft carriers. Precision of flight path by fully autonomous drone is 20 times greater than piloted craft.

So in the future, there will be no piloting link. Onboard autonomous systems. Plenty of info out there, use the google.
benderfly is offline Find More Posts by benderfly
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 10, 2012, 07:01 PM
FPV Racer - N4FPV
Eddie James's Avatar
United States, GA, Kennesaw
Joined Sep 2009
858 Posts
Just to be clear, I am not talking about FPV on a global scale, or even 10 or 20 miles. I am just talking about as technology advances, being able to control RC (and video Tx) with something other than 72M and 2.4G and such.

I mean who is to say that a private company couldn't shoot up a small satellite and then sell access to it for private RC purposes?
Eddie James is offline Find More Posts by Eddie James
RCG Plus Member
Latest blog entry: CavCam, Inc.
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 10, 2012, 07:10 PM
Registered User
ashdec87's Avatar
United States, MI, Detroit
Joined Feb 2004
9,090 Posts
The stuff the military uses is too expensive to be considered for our use. We get worked up about something that costs $50 more than something else. Military hardware cost 1000's.

As for the satellite stuff. There is a lag, a good one too. And from what I understand, they have a local pilot that takes the plane off using LOS, portable equipment, then transfers control to the folks in the states after the plane is clear of the ground.
ashdec87 is offline Find More Posts by ashdec87
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 10, 2012, 07:12 PM
Registered User
benderfly's Avatar
Joined Sep 2007
762 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddie James View Post
Just to be clear, I am not talking about FPV on a global scale, or even 10 or 20 miles. I am just talking about as technology advances, being able to control RC (and video Tx) with something other than 72M and 2.4G and such.

I mean who is to say that a private company couldn't shoot up a small satellite and then sell access to it for private RC purposes?
Government regulations
cost
small market

Yes your idea is feasible but first the government won't allow it (currently), the cost is staggering and there is too small of a market to exploit it. Certainly not at the hobby level. Once regulations relax and commercial enterprise takes hold (land use mapping, survelliance, search and rescue, firefighting, crop dusting, transport, communications, others) it might become available... then hobbyists can piggyback.
benderfly is offline Find More Posts by benderfly
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 10, 2012, 07:30 PM
Registered User
Daemon's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Joined Aug 2002
28,470 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by benderfly View Post
Suffice it to say that what we have now in the hobby originated from military technology.
How do you figure? There's no indication that small security cameras and video transmitters
ever came from the military world. They've been used in the civilian world for a very long time
and have just gotten smaller as all electronics do. A lot of our video receivers are based on
old large satellite dish TV receivers. The Rf modules used in UHF LRS control systems come
off the shelf, and designed for the likes of FRS and GMRS handheld radios. GPS and IMU
units from cell phone and tablet technology. Autopilots people here are designing from scratch
based on Arduino processors and so forth, often through open sourced development projects.

I've got an acquaintance who's designed and sells a high efficiency composite UAV platform who's been
to a few of the UAV trade shows where current and potential military contractors show off their
wares. His overwhelming impression was that the technology transfer was largely the other
direction. Their small platforms are little more advance than what we fly, and sometimes
significantly inferior, even at 10x the cost. Where they put a lot of money is in the
stabilized cameras and such.

The big dogs run on gas or jet fuel with 10x the power density of a lipo, which explains
their long range and endurance. They're 95% autonomous and one guy in a room
somewhere in the midwest can fly several drones at once. The only near realtime
control is over the cameras. It all sounds quite boring to me.
When people ask "Hey, is that like those military drones?"
I usually answer "No, not really like them at all.", hand my spare goggles and
then give them a ride on one of my FPV planes low and fast, between and under the trees...

ian
Daemon is offline Find More Posts by Daemon
RCG Plus Member
Last edited by Daemon; Dec 10, 2012 at 07:51 PM.
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 10, 2012, 07:44 PM
Registered User
1fullbird's Avatar
United States, NE, Omaha
Joined Nov 2011
1,064 Posts
Ian, From my background you are more right than you will ever know. Enough said.
1fullbird is offline Find More Posts by 1fullbird
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 10, 2012, 07:58 PM
FPV Racer - N4FPV
Eddie James's Avatar
United States, GA, Kennesaw
Joined Sep 2009
858 Posts
Not really enough said. I'm finding it hard to understand this "secrecy" perception. It's a plane with a video transmitter and it is remotely controlled. It has technology that will let it fly vectors to a target, do its job, and return. Pretty much everyone knows that.

I want to know how they can control it very long distance. Is it a satellite? Is it simply a joystick in some remote command center? Or is there no joystick until the target is reached? Maybe it flys pre-programmed and is only Piloted at the target.

How do they move that much video that far? Is it digital? If it is travelling at the speed of light how much lag is there at say 10,000 ft. That's what I really want to know.....how do they move the video those distances?
Eddie James is offline Find More Posts by Eddie James
RCG Plus Member
Latest blog entry: CavCam, Inc.
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 10, 2012, 08:09 PM
Registered User
Deadstick 8409's Avatar
Joined May 2010
959 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddie James View Post

How do they move that much video that far? Is it digital? If it is travelling at the speed of light how much lag is there at say 10,000 ft. That's what I really want to know.....how do they move the video those distances?
They have quite a bit at their disposal. Microwave relay, satellite, etc. Take your pic. I am sure if anyone here knowsthe answer, they would not be forthcoming with it. And I am willing to bet a few around here KNOW the answers.
Deadstick 8409 is online now Find More Posts by Deadstick 8409
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 10, 2012, 08:19 PM
Registered User
Daemon's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Joined Aug 2002
28,470 Posts
As I said, they're mostly autonomous. They don't pilot them real time,
they just tell em where on a map to go, and they fly themselves there. Because the big ones
are controlled from the US, there's at least one geosync satellite relay in there, which means
no less than 250ms of latency, and probably quite a bit more. They don't need
true realtime control or video, although I'm sure it'd be nice to keep video latency
down to less than a couple seconds to make it easier to point the cameras.
There may be local relays through AWACS style aircraft or just microwave ground stations.
They may use digital video or a combination of analog and digital. The military has
a lot of Rf spectrum to play with that we do not. Recall this story?
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126102247889095011.html


ian
Daemon is offline Find More Posts by Daemon
RCG Plus Member
Old Dec 10, 2012, 08:30 PM
FPV Racer - N4FPV
Eddie James's Avatar
United States, GA, Kennesaw
Joined Sep 2009
858 Posts
Nicely played ian.
Eddie James is offline Find More Posts by Eddie James
RCG Plus Member
Latest blog entry: CavCam, Inc.
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 10, 2012, 08:43 PM
Registered User
branflakes's Avatar
Joined Jan 2011
2,309 Posts
Ill add this
not a lot of people know Zoltan at nghobbies sells video gear that is above and beyond what we use

try $4K for a vtx setup

thats at least an upgrade to our crap

its what the pro drone builders use for ground equipment, If I remember correctly its $4000 for a 900mhz digi setup

never used one, but for that much cash someone is getting range or they would pick the 1.5 watt stuff we can get.
branflakes is offline Find More Posts by branflakes
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 10, 2012, 09:04 PM
Registered User
ashdec87's Avatar
United States, MI, Detroit
Joined Feb 2004
9,090 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddie James View Post

I want to know how they can control it very long distance. Is it a satellite? Is it simply a joystick in some remote command center? Or is there no joystick until the target is reached? Maybe it flys pre-programmed and is only Piloted at the target.

How do they move that much video that far? Is it digital? If it is travelling at the speed of light how much lag is there at say 10,000 ft. That's what I really want to know.....how do they move the video those distances?
Like Ian said, its a mix of pilot control, automation on the part of the plane, and longe range relays.

I said this in my last post. The landing is done locally with equipment thats a LOT more powerful than what we use. BUT fundamentally the same. They have RC link, and video link. The frequency is different and the power is much greater. Video is encrypted, and RC (should be) glitch proof). For the cruise portion, the link is relayed via satellite to the US. There is a fair delay (1 second or so). Doesnt sound like a lot, but you cant land with it. So the plane is told where to go via autopilot, and the pilots in the states simply monitor the systems, aim the cameras, push the button if needed. That's about it. Nothing outrageously crazy, but on a much much much larger, more powerful scale than what we do.

Also Im not talking about 10K FEET. I'm talking distances over 10K miles.
ashdec87 is offline Find More Posts by ashdec87
Reply With Quote
Old Dec 10, 2012, 09:09 PM
Registered User
chancesAU's Avatar
Australia
Joined Apr 2008
2,805 Posts
Look at the tech they have, and this is ooollldddd....

Mixture of private and military satellite links are used amongst many others for the serious stuff.

Damage Tolerance Flight Test: 80% wing loss (1 min 7 sec)
chancesAU is offline Find More Posts by chancesAU
Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Cool 'Micro' Drones in military service UlteriorModem Life, The Universe, and Politics 8 Jun 01, 2012 09:35 AM
Sophisticated military spy drone HoverBovver Humor 11 Oct 03, 2005 09:07 PM
3 military target drones NIB Steve H. Aircraft - Fuel - Airplanes (FS/W) 4 Apr 10, 2005 01:11 PM
Military DRONE. Large 73" wing span MIG Kev71H Aircraft - Fuel - Airplanes (FS/W) 0 Oct 19, 2004 09:43 PM
Mig 23 Flogger Military Drone FS BenWillis Foamies (Kits) 12 Dec 24, 2003 09:22 PM