Army and Marine Corps Team Up on 3-D Printed Drones

By David McNally
ARL Public Affairs

Lance Cpl. Nicholas Hettinga, 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, prepares to pilot a 3-D printed unmanned aircraft system, or drone, during a Sept. 27, 2017, test flight at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. U.S. Army photo by David McNally, ARL Public Affairs

Army researchers are working with the Marines to develop 3-D printed drones as materials science, aviation technology and software development merge to deliver new capabilities.

“Several years ago when we were collaborating with our academic partner, Georgia Tech, we had this project where we were focusing on design engineering of small unmanned aircraft systems,” said Eric Spero, a team lead within the laboratory’s Vehicle Technology Directorate.

Spero and his team brought their idea to fruition at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s annual event at Fort Benning, Georgia in 2016. The Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment, or AEWE, puts new technologies in the hands of Soldiers.

This is the theme of a new YouTube documentary released by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. The video details how researchers first envisioned on-demand printing with a suite of tools that would allow for soldiers to enter mission parameters and then get a 3-D printed aviation asset within 24 hours.

Researchers then reached out the U.S. Marine Corps and started working with them to provide a software catalog that Marines would use to select and print an unmanned aircraft system for a specific mission.

Researchers said they plan to streamline their processes based on feedback received from the Marines in order to enable unprecedented situational awareness.

Read the full article at Army.mil.

RELATED LINKS:
Marines Launch Affordable, Portable 3-D Printed Drone
DARPA Needs Your Ideas for Drone Swarms
Experimental Drone Transforms in Flight

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