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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Robot of the Day: CQ-10 Snowgoose Cargo Delivery Glider UAV

CQ-10 Snowgoose is a glider UAV developed by Mist Mobility Integrated Systems Technology (MMIST), a Canadian firm, for the purpose of pinpoint precision small cargo delivery. It is one of the earliest UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) used by US military in the war in Afghanistan.

The Snowgoose UAV uses a parafoil for lift and then a "pusher" propeller to help with the glide. A newer version of the UAV CQ-10B actually includes an autogyro rotor for lift and is capable of vertical take off and landing. Therefore the UAV is capable of three types of deployments:
  • ground launching from the back of a truck or Humvee,
  • air launching from the back of a cargo plane,
  • or self launching using the gyro rotor.
The Snowgoose UAV has six modular cargo bays and can be used for leaflet dispensing or delivery of small amount of ammo or medical supplies. The newer model can carry up to 2400 lbs of cargo and travel up to 93 miles. Operator can upload flight plans to the UAV and then the UAV will perform the delivery fully autonomously. This can be very helpful in search and rescue missions, disaster relief efforts, or support military operations in hostile environment.

In 2003, U.S. Special Operations Command bought five of these for $250,000 each and deployed them to Afghanistan in support of special operations in the tough terrains.

With the steep price tag, it is unlikely to see such UAVs used in search and rescue missions (with the exception of this story), which is kind of a shame. That's why cheaper and smaller Micro-UAVs stand better chance of actually deployment in local search and rescue teams.

Video of the Day:

A woman floating on a surfboard near Santa Cruz, California almost ended up on the lunch menu for a humpback whale.