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Energy-Independent Unmanned Vehicles Endure Over Land, Sea
U.S. Navy photo by Javier Chagoya

Energy-Independent Unmanned Vehicles Endure Over Land, Sea

By Javier Chagoya

NPS Research Associate Professors Vladimir Dobrokhodov, left, and Kevin Jones, right, hold their solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicles near the Root Hall breezeway, Jan. 25. Their presentation on energy-independent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) took center stage at the latest Defense Energy Seminar, held in the Mechanical Engineering Auditorium, Jan. 22.

Through the application of classroom instruction and hands-on research, Dobrokhodov and Jones help students understand how existing systems can be advanced through energy-independence. Their recent fabrication of the low-cost Aqua Quad rotary aircraft is capable of landing on the ocean surface and deploying a detection sensor while using the sensing time to regenerate the craft’s photovoltaic cells. It is also capable of transmitting what it finds below the surface up to a ‘flock’ of hovering UAVs, operating in tandem in the area.

“Our goal is to develop technologies that most reliably deliver persistent coverage over a wide area, and it is our hypothesis that this is more readily achieved using large numbers of low-cost, lower-capability assets rather than small numbers of high-cost, higher-capability assets,” explained Jones.

“To survive on only energy sources that the assets can freely capture from the environment is extremely difficult, but this objective … can more easily be met with improved knowledge of the surroundings, which is greatly improved with the dispersed sensing obtained by the many rather than the one," said Jones.

NPS’ Energy Academic Group holds Defense Energy Series lectures on Fridays throughout the current quarter, students and faculty across campus are welcome to attend. Check out for a detailed listing of upcoming presentations.

January Title

January 2016

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