Posted by: robotnews | April 2, 2006

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – The Cypher

U0205109 Wu Jinjia

The Cypher is a remote control helicopter for military surveillance. This Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is 6.5 ft diameter. It has hover capability and can endure three hours of flight when powered by a 50-horsepower class engine. It can even land on slopes of as much as 15 degrees. The Cypher can operate autonomously according to preplanned mission scenario. It is able to fly “hands-off” instead of being flown directly by a ground operator. It has the following autonomous flight modes:

  • auto take-off and landing
  • position hover-hold
  • altitude hold
  • velocity hold
  • waypoint navigation
  • auto return home

The Cypher operates on ducted rotors incorporated with composite structures. The enclosed rotor concept is safer than exposed UAV rotor systems as it minimizes the hazard of exposed high speed blades to ground personnel. The composite structures include the bearingless rotors, fly-by-wire flight controls, and advanced avionics. It is easy to operate and utilizes a centralized computer, called the vehicle mission processor, for execution of flight control laws, vehicle management functions, navigational computations, flight payload management and air vehicle communications. The rotors and the circular shroud surrounding them will share in providing the lift. It combines the efficiency of a ducted air stream with a coaxial advancing blade concept rotor system

The Cypher determines position and navigates using a Global Positioning System. The vehicle is controlled and monitored from an integrated mobile ground station. The entire mission can be planned, executed and monitored from a single system manager display. Vehicle and payload commands, from the system manager, are relayed to the aircraft via a digital telemetry uplink. Aircraft status, mission data, test data and payload video are merged into a single data downlink signal that is transmitted to the control van. The underground control is done through a datalink.

The Cypher has numerous flight demonstrations in both military and civil applications. They include ground and naval surveillance, communication relay, countermeasures missions as well as such non-defense roles as counter-narcotics, ordnance disposal, forestry, utilities, law enforcement and search and rescue.

In a demonstration at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) site at Fort Benning, Ga., Cypher flew down streets, landed on a building’s roof and strategically placed different payloads. For the U.S. Army’s Autonomous Rotorcraft Testbed (ASRT) program, Cypher – with no operator input – searched and tracked man-size targets. For the U.S. Department of Energy, Cypher used magnetometers to search and locate underground structures and tunnels in Nevada. In September 1997, Cypher flew at the Army’s Force Protection Equipment Demonstration in Virginia. So far this air vehicle has already accumulated about 400 flight hours at Sikorsky’s Development flight Centre.

References:

http://cache.ucr.edu/~currie/roboadam.htm
http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/systems/cypher.htm

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Responses

  1. U0307641 Low Youliang Freddy

    This looks like a very cool invention. It looks like it is modeled after an alien spaceship, hovering over the place it is supposed to survey! However, there seems to be no mention of its speed. If this robot were to undergo surveilance of places that are under enemy control, it should be able to operate in stealth mode with the ablity to get away as fast as possible. Nevertheless, this robot is still; in my opinion; quite a fantastic equipment to be used in the military with its fantastic performance such as its long flight hours and unmanned capability.

  2. WANG LIWANG u0205321

    Yes it looks some how like an UFO. I have even watched some programs by Discovery Channel about this kind of aircraft. They can take off or land vertically, and can also suspend in the air for long time. However the speed is not that fast or even be considered as slow. It can move horizontal by tilting the propeller like copter.

  3. From here we can see that things we see in movie are actually becoming reality. This machine is a proof that technology are taking over man in war zone. This robots can actually greatly reduce the manpower and risk of losing lives. With the ability of not only surveilance during, it can also do search and rescue which prove its usefulness in all areas. It and also conduct security surveilance in open area events where security carmers cannot be installed. However if the size can be smaller it will be even more effective. Nevertheless, this robots give a good idea and a head start of our future world

  4. U0204500 Ong Phian Ting

    This sure looks like a great leap in warfare, surveillance without risking a soldier’s life. But Liwang, you said you have seen it on Dicovery Channel, then you should know that they mentioned there is a draw back to this machine. It creates a racket of noise with its propeller when it fly pass. Stealth is definately not going to be possible.

    It was also mentioned that they had intention of mounting a riffle gun on it, effectively making it the ultimate sniper in the sky. But the recoil from the gun would knock the machine off the sky.

    Hence, the purpose of this machine would be more of a surveillance task that give commander a clear view of the battle zone. A task that is now undertaken by areoplane and helicopter that flies high over the battle field. The machine would hence minimise the risk that is taken by these pilots.

  5. U0204734
    Woo Handa Raymond

    I also agree that the main drawback of the UAV Cypher is the speed and the size.It is definitely not suitable to act as a survelliencetool for location under enemy control.

    Nonetheless, it serves a survellience tool of the open area of the restricted area of military camp where survellience camera are not so feasible to install.In this way, the manpower needed for guarding those restricted areas will be reduced and more efficient.

  6. u0204610 Andy Tan

    I think the design of this robot is very nice and unique. However it is not very practical for use as surveillance as it is too big thus making it easily noticeable. Maybe it could be modified to be used as a searching robot to look for survivor of plane crashes etc since it can fly for long hours without stopping…

  7. U0205319 Tuo Xiane
    I think this invention could become “future cars”! Imagine one day you can park your car just next to doorway when you live on the 20th storey. We never have to take crooked route from one place to another, just fly straight there! Yes, I think the noise of the propellers of helicopters are unacceptable, maybe the technology has to be improved on this part.

  8. u0205044 Yan Meixian

    From the pictures, it looks like a UFO and reminds me of a game from miniclips. I think as mentioned by the previous comments, the Cypher is not suitable for use in enemy territory due to its bulkiness and nice white conspicious color. But I think its a great tool for man-searching in the mountains and forests. People trapped there for sure won’t miss such a wierd looking object hovering on-top of them.


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