One of the more interesting concepts we saw at the AUVSI show this year (and possibly just ran across while we were sorting through our piles of conference swag) was this UAV, from Canadian company Eqquera. Called the SQ-EQQ, it consists of a "mother hen" autonomous delta-wing jet-thing that can deploy "friendly chick" sub-UAVs to conduct missions all by themselves.
The "mother hen and friendly chicks" thing is a less deadly version of "mother hen with deadly chicks," which refers to a 1930s era Soviet program featuring bombers launching little parasite aircraft to drop more bombs on stuff. Here's a slightly better illustration of how the SG-EQQ is supposed to work:
The version of the UAV illustrated above is carrying just one friendly chick that looks exactly like a UFO, but other configurations can carry up to three friendly chicks that look slightly less exactly like UFOs. The chicks can undock and dock autonomously, giving the system a significant increase in range and versatility over other UAVs, since you get all of the capability of a small rotor-based UAV without sacrificing the range and efficiency of a large jet-based UAV.
Eqquera is designed for autonomous operation in remote areas, specifically arctic ecosystem monitoring and fighting wildfires with "water missiles:"
At AUVSI, Eqquera had a small-scale non-functioning prototype of the carrier aircraft, and considering the complexity of what they're trying to do, our guess is that it's going to take them quite a while to get a full-size flying version of the complete system off the ground.
And I'm not sure what a water missile is, but I badly want to launch one at something dry.
Via [ Eqquera ]
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.