West Point is known as the pinnacle of American military academia so it’s no surprise the historic Army school is reaching new heights in drone research.
According to a recent Army media report, the school highlighted specialized drone projects created by senior cadets during the aptly named Projects Day. The annual event allows cadets to demonstrate their expertise in engineering, mathematics and computer science.
This year, students launched several drone projects as part of “Swarm Challenge.” Entries included rotor and fixed-wing designed for military reconnaissance.
Another student team developed a drone designed to provide aerial views of historic battle sites for educational programs.
Operations Research major Cadet Kelsey Wohleben created a drone project that will help assess corrosion issues on bridges.
“The Corps of Engineers are actually going to be able to use this because a lot of their projects have to deal with building and maintaining bridges,” Wohleben said in a West Point press release.
“Build a Virtual Drone,” the brainchild of Cadet Ellis Valdez, will help urban soldiers maintain communications by mapping a cityscape before deployment using 3D imagery. Building a virtual walk-through will allow soldiers to optimize deployment of communication drones and decrease radio blackouts caused by tall buildings.
“Our role was to create a virtual environment that commanders would be able to use to calculate beforehand where they should place the drone so they can maintain communication for when they go and execute the mission,” Valdez said.
West Point is fast becoming a player in both the UAV sector and the drone mitigation industry.
Last year, then-Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter zapped a drone to the delight of cadets using a prototype anti-drone rifle during a campus visit.
Carter took out a Parrot quadcopter with the Army’s newest innovation – an inexpensive drone killer that can be built for about $150 in parts.
Designed by Captains Brent Chapman, Matt Hutchison, and Erick Waage of the Army Cyber Institute, the rifle emits a radio signal that can command a UAV to power down – resulting in the inevitable plummet to the ground.
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