Behold! 3 Drones of the Near Future

Drones aren’t going away any
time soon. In fact, they’re going to be more present than ever in
our skies, seas, and on land. Some of us might even buy them for

As Shane Harris previous wrote for
Reason, not only is “the military is planning for a future
that relies more on drones than it does on manned planes,” but also
“the market in domestic drones [is] poised for takeoff. A drone
revolution is coming.” Below are a few pieces of unmanned
technology, some of which are already being implemented. (Others
are still at the drawing board.)

1. Unmanned Aerial (and Aquatic and Terrestrial)

Sandia National Laboratories are developing and testing
“multi-modal vehicles” that can fly, swim, drive, and jump. All of
these features are operated through a single interface. Concept
videos show the vehicle’s ability to drop exterior layers, such as
its wings when it hits the water and its paddles when it drives
onto land. Sandia anticipates that the Volant will provide quick,
flexible assistance to manned operations without requiring a whole
army of robots outfitted exclusively for certain situations.

The Volant’s design is not without drawbacks, though.
Wired explains
that “because it sheds parts and material as it transforms from one
mode to another, recovery is almost impossible — making every
mission an expensive one-way trip.”

2. The Rail-Launched Stealth Bat

The Bat is a drone with a
blended wing body
that makes it stealthier than conventional
designs. It also relies on a mobile hydraulic-rail launcher for
take off and a large net for recovery.Unlike larger, more
cumbersome combat drones, the Bat does not require a runway. Being
freed from the tarmac allows this drone to take off in rougher

The Bat may be small, but it is fierce. Current models comes in
10 to 12-foot wingspan, can fly 70 mph, and can carry a 3.2 cubic
foot payload. Until recently, this drone was resigned to
“intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition and
to Northrop Grumman, producer of the Bat. But, it was
recently outfitted with a “miniature electronic attack payload”
that makes it capable of engaging in combat.

3. Drones for Personal Use

Frog, a product strategy and design firm, is working on ways to
integrate unmanned aerial vehicles into daily activities and

them into “off-body wearables.” These small
drones would be privately owned tools more akin to a flying roomba
than a war machine.

The Guardian Angel concept drone would fly along with its owner
on jogs. Guided by a signal from a heart-rate monitor, this drone
“helps you adjust your performance by providing instant feedback,”

to the design team. Other designs include the
“Paparazzi” drone that would film its owner for social media
purposes. Or at least that’s the idea. The company doesn’t
anticipate completing these devices until 2020. 

from Hit & Run

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