Droneception: Lockheed Launches a Flying Drone From a Swimming Drone
The question of how to launch drones over the ocean has been a lingering technical problem as the U.S. military has scaled up its interest in unmanned system. But Lockheed Martin just launched a small aerial drone out over the ocean through another drone, showing the possibilities of cross-domain drone launches.
The Marlin MK2 autonomous underwater vehicle, shown here at an event sponsored by the U.S. Navy, was able to launch a Vector Hawk, a small aerial drone, from the surface of the Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. “This signifies the versatility of Lockheed Martin’s unmanned systems to communicate seamlessly across domains to conduct a diverse set of missions in all environments. The capability is quickly reconfigured in the field,” says Kevin Schlosser, chief architect of unmanned systems at Lockheed, in a press release. “In a short time, we enabled these systems to work together by rapidly changing sensor packages.”
A Vector Hawk can fly for more than 70 minutes, Lockheed says, and operators only need a few minutes to recover and re-launch one, including time taken to change batteries. The government has been trying out multiple approaches to its problem of launching drones from the middle of the ocean, including a robotic arm that would catch them.