At a restricted airfield at a quiet National Guard base in central California, researchers from the Naval Postgraduate School have loaded a drone they call a flying wing onto what looks like a giant sling shot.

The drone soars up into the air and settles into a racetrack pattern. It’s up so high it’s hard to see, but the sound is inescapable — like a buzzing bee. With the launch of several more, the buzz grows louder as they all settle into that racetrack pattern.

The aim is to get 24 drones into a swarm and have it behave like one.

“In our context, swarming means a large collection of aerial robots working together to do something meaningful or interesting,” says Timothy Chung, who is heading up this project for the Naval Postgraduate School. “The one behavior that we’re testing out today is a leader follower behavior where the aircraft talks amongst themselves.”

Follow The Leader: Drones Learn To Behave In Swarms

GIF: Krista Almanzan/KAZU
NASA's 10-Rotor UAV Hovers Like a Helicopter, Flies Like an Airplane
NASA's Greased Lightning prototype transitioned from hovering to wing-borne flight seamlessly in mid-air.

NASA has rolled out what looks like the B-52 of unmanned aerial vehicles. Last week, NASA engineers successfully tested the Greased Lightning GL-10, which is a battery-powered, 10-rotor remotely piloted aircraft that can perform a useful trick: It takes off and lands like a helicopter, but can also transition to conventional flight in mid-air. Shifting from hover to wing-borne flight has long flummoxed aerospace engineers, but the GL-10 looks like a big step in the right direction.


Will future surveillance missions start with spools of plastic filament, pop-in components and a 3-D printer? It would certainly save valuable space aboard the naval, coastal patrol and research ships that are often the platform from where drones are launched.

Engineers at the University of Southampton in the UK recently demonstrated the concept by launching their small 3-D printed SULSA unmanned aerial vehicle off the deck of a Royal Navy warship. The almost seven-pound, five-foot-long drone flew 1,640 feet to shore after being catapulted off the HMS Mersey. Learn more below.

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“There are no strings on me.”

[1] A MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system from the "Magicians” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35, the Navy’s first composite expeditionary helicopter squadron, lifts off the flight deck of the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3). 

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Antonio P. Turretto Ramos, 14 DEC 2014.)

An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter and an MQ-8B Fire Scout, both assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35, conduct coordinated flight operations with the littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) in the Southern California operating area. 

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joan E. Jennings, 30 APR 2015.)

Capable of autonomous takeoff and landing from any aviation-capable seafaring vessel, the Fire Scout’s future conceptual operation involves tandem pairing with manned MH-60 Sea Hawks for more dynamic fleet defense options.


This is Flimmer, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s latest innovation. Inspired by birds who dive into the ocean to catch their dinner, Flimmer is a drone that can fly as well as dive into the ocean. It can then convert itself into a submersible for underwater surveillance, making it one of the first amphibious drones being developed today.

Kinda sad I can’t go to the @northfielddrivein’s annual #Dusk2Dawn cause I’m away at college. Gonna try to visit a drive-in theater nearby to get my outdoor movie fix this Labor Day Weekend.
Took this photo with my @3drobotics Solo and @gopro 4 Silver.
#fly3dr #drone #drivein #gopro #drones #aerialphotography #sunset #goprohero4 #dronesaregood #uav #rc #flying #movietheater #retro #oldschool #summerfun #newengland #AirVuzTimesSquare (at Northfield Drive-In)


UAV Launch During Fearless Guardian