"The vehicle has a 38m wingspan but weighs little more than a typical sysadmin: 149kg (328lb)."
The Ordnance Survey reckons it has succeeded where Google and Facebook failed, with the launch of a solar-powered drone fleet that will hover permanently high above Blighty. The Astigan high-altitude "pseudo satellite" (HAPS) is British technology, and was co-developed with the Survey, which owns it. Brian Jones, former RAF …
Is that with or without the belt-mounted Leatherman tools, bits for the Leatherman tools, Wenger Swiss Army Knife, Victorinox Swiss Army Knife, Stanly Multi-Tool, Work Cellphone, Private Cellphone, Apple Newton (for street cred), Spring-Loaded Tape Measure (for snaking network cable), Mini-Maglite, and carabiner loaded with a ridiculously silly number of sharp car paint scratchers and upholstery rippers?
Or aren't you a *real* SA?
Though I have to say, the Leatherman Wave (new iteration) and a set of skinny bits to fit the bit holder are more thunderingly useful than the Gerber tool, or any tool with a dedicated driver. The Allen Keys work spectacularly well, as does the Philips - the most positive and easy-to-use folding Philips driver I've ever had in my hands. Even the Torx bits work above expectations.
The only downsides to the Wave are the propensity to gift the user with a really good blood blister if the pliers slip when really giving whatever-it-is a damn good squeezing, the way the cutter jaws can bind up while cutting soft and thinner wire (a problem with all folding pliers because none of the ones I've seen lock in the "pliers deployed" configuration) and the scissors are not great for cutting lightweight paper.
... and what's the power budget of the payload (assuming that it draws power from the batteries that power the craft as well).
Was also rather disappointed by their 'plane/stratosphere/orbit' comparison... you'd have thought that scale would be important in that animation...
As far as I know there are currently no military aircraft, apart from a few U-2s, that can operate at 67,000 ft., so for all practical purposes its above any other aircraft that is likely to be flying over the UK.
NOTE that, rocket planes and U-2s excluded, it seems likely that the highest flying aircraft today is Perlan 2, a pure glider, that is awaiting confirmation of a record for its flight on September 2, 2018 which reached 76,124 ft in Patagonian mountain wave off the Andes.
The story is here: http://www.perlanproject.org/blog/perlan-2-soars-above-76000-feet
and a longer film is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KE792Y9hyww
"The OS story is a cover. These devices are really so the authorities can track and respond to the brexit riots"
Nah, this is our response to being kicked out of Gallileo. When you're lost, you ring up the OS and they have a look at the latest imagery, and then say "Do a U turn".
"Nah, this is our response to being kicked out of Gallileo"
"What can you fit in a 25kg payload"?
How about an atomic clock, a computer, and a microwave transmitter - with a constellation of drones, we could have our own UK GPS network up and running in months.
So is the major competition:- Zephyr, although that's now owned by Airbus.
IIRC Zephyr had some defence funding? So there's no way on earth they'll share that with anybody like OS, even if OS can claim that all their staff have the necessary clearance. So probably very sensible to invest in an SME to build their own.
The 38m is the single number wot makes things make sense - no drone of any kind of more conventional dimensions has enough surface area to gather any meaningful amount of solar energy as far as powered flight is concerned; but yes, once your wingspan is measured in bus lengths, staying up there for quite a while definitely can be done and has been done. Although I'm not sure roads and rivers move around often enough to warrant 24/7 surveillance especially once you already mapped them; but as far as up-to-date "satellite imagery" is concerned, this would definitely help...
I'm not sure roads and rivers move around often enough to warrant 24/7 surveillance especially once you already mapped them
Don't forget that a lot of the world is still not mapped, and OS probably have their eye on the ability to remotely map entire nations as a commercial exercise. And being well out of range of ground fire would enable mapping in countries where you'd not want to have anything with the range of a Manpad.
If you can sort out the resolution to an acceptable degree then there's still UK applications that would benefit from repeated re-scans. So power line clearances to vegetation, water leaks.
"Don't forget that a lot of the world is still not mapped, and OS probably have their eye on the ability to remotely map entire nations as a commercial exercise. "
In the BBC version of the story, they say the OS is looking at selling their services to countries where mapping is very expensive due to either large generally inaccessible areas or the country just doesn't have the cash to splurge on quality satellite mapping.
"I'm not sure roads and rivers move around often enough to warrant 24/7 surveillance especially once you already mapped them"
Doing some navigation practice with OS maps recently. My mate had a 2011 map, and I had a 2016 map. A surprising number of boundary marks had moved or were totally gone which made it much more challenging for him. Mountains and rivers don't move much, but they don't only map mountains and rivers (they also have pubs marked!)
Because in the Navy a pilot does a different job involving steering the ships.
Lest you think this is daft sailor nomenclature nonsense, talk about stalling the engine in a small aircraft in front of an aircraft pilot and get lectured - endlessly - on the proper use of "stall" when it comes to aeroplanes.
But it also comes down *really* slowly... The speed at which that thing started flying was nice and low (minimise energy expenditure cutting through the air.
You could probably catch it without too much difficulty - Mr Steven would be fast enough...
Such drones don't have any wheels for the takeoff roll, and thus there's no ground clearance for the props if they could roll, or even skid. These aircraft are a lot like spacecraft, in that they must shave off every possible gram of mass, but also while enlarging the aircraft physically as much as possible! Those two things don't naturally go together, so extreme (and expensive) measures are utilized to get it done.
I'd guess they dispense with all landing gear other than a tiny steel skid along the bottom. They can't take off on that, but on the landing approach the props could be stopped and moved to the horizontal position just before touchdown, keeping the props clear of the ground.
Then maybe, just maybe, they'll get her down in one piece. Considering how sensitive such a large, lightweight vehicle is to the slightest zephyr, good luck with that. It probably makes safely landing a dirigible look easy.
The cloud won' affect their power (as they'll be waaay above the vast majority of cloud).
Now, would cloud be an issue for what they're looking at? Possibly, although the beauty of these is that unlike a satellite it'll be easier to tell it to look in particular areas and perhaps avoid the cloud. Note an earlier poster wondered if these could be desired to help the OS map non-UK locations, some of which might be a little less occluded.
In addition to mapping, the platform has uses for "urbanisation, land management, environmental change and mapping to support emergency response in the case of natural disasters", according to Neil Ackroyd, co-founder of the company.
And surveillance of the civil population. Don't forget about that.
I suspect that if you put the batteries inside the wing sections in a long sausage surrounded by a low-density foam, they'd be pretty well insulated - perhaps enough that you wouldn't need to run extra heater wires near them, given that they'll emit heat both when charging and when discharging. No idea whether that's how it's done, but it looks like the kind of design where you can take advantage of available space.
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