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Lockheed Martin's New UAV Is a Manhack on Steroids

| 30 Sep 2009 14:29

Lockheed Martin's new unmanned aerial vehicle looks like a cross between a UFO and the worst helicopter ever, yet somehow it flies like a bird. An extremely deadly bird.

The vehicle, dubbed "SAMARAI" (an allusion to its resemblance to these seed pods), is what aviation engineers call a "monocopter."

Instead of taking up valuable space with useless bits like a cockpit, the entire vehicle consists of a single spinning airfoil. Obviously this wouldn't be a great design for a vehicle designed to carry people, but it works wonders for unmanned reconnaissance drones.

Despite the inherent terror of having these things chase you down a long corridor, it looks like the military is having second thoughts on producing manhacks en masse. Says botjunkie:

... the SAMARAI project was canceled last year after completing phase 1 of a DARPA nano air vehicle contract. Phase 2 of that contract, incidentally, went to AeroVironment for this. The information included with the above video, however, suggests that this flight test is "recent," and while no sources are cited, the YouTube channel it's from is run by an editor over at Aviation Week (or so it says), so there's some amount of credibility there. Maybe we'll get some answers in the near future now that this video is live.

Honestly, that's probably for the best.

Even if these things aren't designed to remotely decapitate people, you'd have to imagine that the temptation to simply hover at neck height would be too great for even the most seasoned UAV operators. Our war effort can't afford to have men reenacting the French revolution when they could instead be remotely launching missiles and laying down suppression fire with automated chainguns. It just wouldn't be efficient.

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