An Advanced micro helicopter At Virginia Tech University, a group of researchers is at work on designing an unmanned helicopter which, due to its characteristics, is one that its creators hope that they will never have the chance to use.
In fact, it is designed to be used for reconnaissance missions in areas hit by a nuclear strike or a dirty bomb, which combines conventional explosive and radioactive material, supporting investigators to detect radioactivity levels and gather intelligence data and images to assess the damage suffered.
The advanced micro helicopter, approximately 6 foot long and with a weight around 200 pounds, is a Yamaha RMAX UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) which has been engineered by adding a software which, among other things, would have it head automatically towards a radioactivity source, if it is detected by the sensors mounted on the vehicle.
How an advanced micro helicopter used for surveillance in post-nuclear attack?
On top of that, it can carry, along with photo and video equipment, a mini robot, which is connected to a retractable wire and dropped on the affected area, where thanks to a small “vacuum cleaner” it can be used to gather evidence and debris, which is then analyzed to evaluate the level of radioactive contamination.
Thanks to its high maneuverability, this robot can reach the crater where an explosion took place, take pictures and measurements; furthermore, researchers are working to make it waterproof, in order to be able to use it in the difficult environmental conditions that follow an explosion, with broken water pipes, puddles and the like.
They are also studying the possibility of adding a range of devices to take 3D images of the ground, in order to better analyze characteristics of the blast and optimize rescue operations.
The project is being financed by the US Department of Defense and should see the light before the end of the year although, for obvious reasons, we all hope that it is never used for applications for which it was designed.