Tuesday, January 22, 2008

OSU Creates Plasma Thrusters For DARPA's Bug-Sized UAV

Rocket Propulsion Research Might Advance Military Technology
By Ted Bado
Daily O'Collegian

Oklahoma State researchers are developing a state-of-the-art propulsion system for the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

If successful, the propulsion system will be featured in sophisticated unmanned aircraft small enough to fit into a soldier’s pocket.

“It’s a new propulsion technology to be used by micro and nano-unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAV,” Jacob said. “By micro, we mean smaller than a foot, and by nano, we mean smaller than six inches.”

“What is currently in the field is the Dragon Eye UAV,” Jacob said. “It is three feet in span, and it has some drawbacks.

“It doesn’t work well inside and it doesn’t work well in urban areas. We want ours to be able to work well in urban situations.”

“We are basically creating a thruster with no moving parts,” Ozturk said.

“Our project is perfect for small scaled usage,” Ozturk said. “It will work in an engine for a small vehicle because building an actual engine that small with all the moving parts is almost impossible.

Toni Shaklee, OSU Assistant Vice President for Sponsored Research, said OSU has had a healthy relationship with DARPA during its history.

Aerospace technology students at OSU are working on two other DARPA projects.

“One of our projects is to keep an aircraft in the air for five years without landing,” Jacob said. “The other is to put an aircraft in a ballistic missile, which would serve as a launching system, the aircraft would fly out of the missile and provide us with immediate surveillance anywhere in the world within 45 minutes.”

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