Drones

US Navy offers drone-in-a-tube tech to the public

US Navy offers drone-in-a-tube...
Civilian contractors from the Office of Naval Research conduct a test on the Nomad drone system aboard the littoral combat ship USS Coronado
Civilian contractors from the Office of Naval Research conduct a test on the Nomad drone system aboard the littoral combat ship USS Coronado
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Civilian contractors from the Office of Naval Research conduct a test on the Nomad drone system aboard the littoral combat ship USS Coronado
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Civilian contractors from the Office of Naval Research conduct a test on the Nomad drone system aboard the littoral combat ship USS Coronado
A Nomad drone lands on the flight deck of the littoral combat ship USS Coronado during testing in 2017
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A Nomad drone lands on the flight deck of the littoral combat ship USS Coronado during testing in 2017
During flight tests aboard the USS Coronado several Nomad UAVs demonstrated their ability to quickly launch and fly in formation
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During flight tests aboard the USS Coronado several Nomad UAVs demonstrated their ability to quickly launch and fly in formation

If you're trying to confuse an incoming missile, one way of doing it would be to place a swarm of radio frequency-emitting drones in its path. That's what the US Navy's tube-launched Nomad was designed to do, although commercial partners are now being invited to adapt the drone for their own needs.

The Nomad (Netted Offboard Miniature Active Decoy) is three feet long (0.9 m), and sits in a tube with its pair of spring-loaded rotors folded into its sides when not in use. Once it's time to take to the air, a blast of compressed carbon dioxide shoots it out of that tube, at which point the rotors pop out and start spinning in opposite directions.

The UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) can then fly in any direction or hover on the spot, landing vertically on a set of four legs when its mission is completed.

While there are other tube-launched rotary-wing drones, the Nomad reportedly has a larger and thus more efficient rotary diameter, plus it can be launched in higher wind speeds. We've also seen tube-launched fixed-wing drones – such as the Blackwing and the Locust – although those can't hover or track alongside slow-moving targets, plus they have a smaller payload capacity, and they can't face sideways relative to the direction in which they're travelling.

A Nomad drone lands on the flight deck of the littoral combat ship USS Coronado during testing in 2017
A Nomad drone lands on the flight deck of the littoral combat ship USS Coronado during testing in 2017

Given that the Nomad's patent was made public on Oct. 4th, the Department of Defense's TechLink office is now looking for businesses that may be interested in licensing the technology, perhaps even with an eye towards manufacturing a civilian version of the drone that could be equipped with sensors and/or a top-mounted camera.

"Nomad is a low-cost rotary wing vehicle in which researchers can test remote control, autonomous flight control, station keeping, and safe coordinated flight supporting any number of possible future payloads," says Nomad inventor Steven Tayman, a senior aerospace engineer at the Naval Research Laboratory. "The unique form factor provides compact, lightweight storage in an integrated launch tube, and allows for storage in a ready-to-use condition for quick reaction deployment."

Unfortunately there are currently no publicly-posted videos of the Nomad in flight.

Source: TechLink

3 comments
aaron62
So why again do the drones need to be shot out of a tube? Compact storage? That seems like a big waste of time and money when there are hundreds of standard off-the-shelf drones that could be used and launched from anywhere if they didn't have the silly requirement of having to launch out of a tube.
Wombat56
aaron62, the obvious answer is rapid and perhaps automatic deployment, maybe immediately on the detection of an oncoming missile swarm. It's initial purpose is for a anti-missile decoy, remember? Being stored in a tube means it can be waterproof and ready to go for a period of years without maintenance.
aaron62
Wombat56, thank you. I get that part, but I can't imagine it being more reliable to keep a drone in a tube for any extended time than to have it readily accessible in the open. You can monitor the batteries, test communication, etc.