DARPA comes "within inches" of grabbing a flying drone out of the air in Gremlins test flight

Dec. 14, 2020
Hours of data were collected over three flights, including aerodynamic interactions between the docking bullet and GAV, DARPA reports.

WAHINGTON - Attempts at airborne retrieval of three unmanned air vehicles, nicknamed Gremlins, were just inches from success in DARPA’s latest flight test series that started on October 28. Each X-61A Gremlins Air Vehicle (GAV) flew for more than two hours, successfully validating all autonomous formation flying positions and safety features. Nine attempts were made at mechanical engagement of the GAVs to the docking bullet extended from a C-130 aircraft, but relative movement was more dynamic than expected and each GAV ultimately, safely parachuted to the ground, DARPA reports. Continue reading original article.

The Intelligent Aerospace take:

December 14, 2020 -“All of our systems looked good during the ground tests, but the flight test is where you truly find how things work,” said Scott Wierzbanowski, program manager for Gremlins in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. “We came within inches of connection on each attempt but, ultimately, it just wasn’t close enough to engage the recovery system...We made great strides in learning and responding to technological challenges between each of the three test flight deployments to date. We were so close this time that I am confident that multiple airborne recoveries will be made in the next deployment. However, as with all flight testing, there are always real world uncertainties and challenges that have to be overcome.”

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Jamie Whitney, Associate Editor
Intelligent Aerospace

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