Archive for August 8, 2012
Robots and Gliders and Drones, Oh My!
LAS VEGAS — The information flow is coming fast and furious at the Association of Unmanned Vehicles Systems International’s 2012 conference and expo here in Las Vegas.
First, the acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration says the federal agency is working away at selecting six states to be testbeds for the integration of unmanned aircraft into the National Air Space – where commercial aircraft and private planes fly.
But acting Administrator Michael Huerta said he couldn’t say when the FAA would make its decision – Only that “we’ve gotten a lot of interest” on the program and “we’re currently evaluating everything we got. We’re very close. Keep watching this space.”
Until then, all unmanned aircraft must get permission from the FAA to fly in U.S. Commercial airspace on a case by case basis.
He was followed by the head of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Study Group for the International Civil Aviation Organization – a United Nations agency – which is looking at ways to admit drones into the commercial airspace around the world. But then she said ICAO is strictly bound by a legal document, known as the Chicago Convention, has some pretty firm rules about aircraft without a pilot on board. Leslie Cary added that it will take some time before those rules are amended for autonomous aircraft.
In the meantime, she said ICAO will soon publish vehicle certification and basic pilot standards for remotely piloted aircraft. She called those standards “just the tip of what will become the regulatory framework.”
Folks from Lockheed Martin and Kaman told a press briefing that the Marine Corps, which is testing their unmanned cargo helicopter, the K-MAX, in Afghanistan, want to keep it in-country for another six months because they are getting such good results with the two test models they are using.
Then Northrop Grumman officials talked about new models of their Global Hawk – a high altitude unmanned reconnaissance aircraft – including their maritime version for the Navy, the MQ-4C Broad Area Maritime Surveillance system, which debuted in California in June and will have its innaugural flight later this year. Meanwhile, a demonstration model of the BAMS continues to fly missions over Afghanistan and other areas overssen by U.S. Central Command.
And that was just a part of what went on Tuesday morning!
Since then, we’ve worked our way around the massive exhibit hall chock full of small, multi-engine UAVs that can fly through an open window, autonomous underwater vehicles, known as gliders, that can take temperature and salinity samples of the ocean while drifting with the current and tracked robots that can disarm bombs or tell an infantry squad what’s around the next bend in a dark alley.
With his supply lines from Michigan compromised and the threat of even more First Nations (as they’re called in Canada) warriors joining the small force of British and Canadian troops defending Amherstburg, U.S. Brigadier Gen. William Hull decides to withdraw from his toehold in Upper Canada (now Ontario) in early August and retreat back across the Detroit River into Michigan. Hull and his troops return to Fort Detroit, their invasion of Canada lasted a mere 24 days.
At Brownstown Creek in Michigan, Native Americans – mostly Shawnee – led by Tecumseh ambush about 200 U.S. troops heading south from Fort Detroit on Aug. 5 to pick up cattle and much needed supplies.
The American commander – Major Thomas Van Horne overestimates the size of the force opposing him – which may only have numbered 25 warriors – and orders a withdrawal. The retreat soon turns into a rout with 70 militiamen scattering. Seventeen U.S. soldiers are killed, a dozen more are wounded. Most of the 70 missing militiamen turn up at Fort Detroit. But two soldiers are captured and later killed. Apparently only one Native American raider is killed in the skirmish.
More Indians, Fighting
Worried about his dwindling supplies, Hull sends an even bigger force – 280 Army regulars and more than 330 Ohio volunteers – to pick up supplies at the River Raisin in southeast Michigan. But again, the Americans are confronted on Aug. 9 by a combined force of 205 British and Canadian troops and First Nations warriors.
The battle dissolved in confusion through a series of mistakes and misunderstandings by both sides. The outnumbered British force traded fire with a group of Potawatomi coming to their assistance. Both groups thought the other one was Americans.
As the American line wavered under heavy British-Canadian-First Nations fire, the British commander Capt. Adam Muir of the 41st Welsh Regiment of Foot ordered his bugler to sound the charge, but most of his troops came from units that used drums, not bugles, for commands. Confused, they fell back.
When the American commander Lt. Colonel James Miller saw the other troops retreating, he ordered his men to charge. After advancing a way, Miller realized Muir had rallied his troops and they were were prepared for another attack. The American colonel decided not to press his luck. But he also refused to advance and get the supplies, fearing another ambush. Hull finally ordered Miller to return to Detroit. It was the second time in a week that a supply escort column came back empty handed.
American casualties at what would become known as the Battle of Maguaga amounted to 18 dead and 64 wounded. The British troops lost three killed and 13 wounded. The Canadian militia suffered one killed and two wounded. The Indians lost two killed and six wounded.
Next week: Horror at Dearborn, Disgrace at Detroit