MAV 08 part two: Podcast

Flight technical editor Rob Coppinger is blogging this week from the 1st US-Asian demonstration and assessment of micro aerial vehicles (MAV) and unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) technology, also known as MAV08, the latest in a series of US military sponsored events encouraging MAV development

The conference began yesterday with speeches by keynote speakers on the significance of the surveillance capability that unmanned air vehicles, especially micro air vehicles (MAV), and in future unmanned ground vehicles, would give the soldier, or to use US military speak Warfighter. The programme for this conference can be found here

Most of the speeches given were broad in nature and readers of will be aware of the US Army’s plans for UAV development. Perhaps the most interesting speech was given by Lieutenent General VJ Sundaram, who spoke on India’s work on MAVs over the last ten years. A subject that has not recieved much publicity but one which I will be writing a story about this week.

The press conference that followed brought questions from the non-technical media about the possibility of militants obtaining MAV technology.
The conference’s keynote speakers attending the press conference were less concerned that this was an issue – in reality Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers and the Lebano’s Hezbollah have both used what could be call MAVs – and focused more on the potential use by emergency services.

Today saw the second day provide more detailed matter with the first seven technical presentations. This was in the afternoon, after a morning that was to have seen flight demonstrations of the conference’s competing teams vehicles but which weather brought a halt to.

For my review of the conference so far listen to my podcast here or here
Technical issues mean that these podcasts will no longer be available. The podcast script can be found in the extended entry to this postWelcome to the 12 March 2008 podcast by Flight technical editor Rob Coppinger

Bee vision might not seem like a relevant topic for a conference on unmanned air vehicles but it could be the guidance system of the future.

This was the proposal of one researcher at the US department of defense sponsored 1st US-Asian demonstration and assessment of micro aerial vehicle (MAVs) and unmanned ground vehicle technology conference, being held this week in the Indian city of Agra.

Located in Agra’s sprawling Jaypee Palace hotel and starting on 11 March the conference, also known simply as MAV08, has brought to light India’s ten years of work on MAVs, next steps in US morphing wing progress and the bee vision system.

Indian government advisor Lieutenant General VJ Sundaram, retired, spoke of the decisions made over the last ten years to investigate MAVs and the more recent decisions to enter into co-operation with the US.

Of the United States increased cooperation with Indian, military officials spoke of a doubling over the last 18 months of the USA’s resources applied to the joint work, and the expectations for that to double in the next year.

US company Nextgen Aeronautics’ Dr Jayanth Kudva spoke of the work carried out for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on morphing wings.

The company had used strips of an elastic skin across a wing whose chord and spanwise spars were actuators to create the morphing capability. More on the past work can be found at

However Kudva described how on one occasion the flight test vehicle had made an “unconventional landing” that wasn‘t a crash and how the follow-on studies were now looking at what he called a Chinese fan design for morphing.

The bee vision is also US funded research but is being carried out at Australia’s University of Queensland. Insects use the rate of images passing their eyes, known as optic flow, to determine their speed and altitude.

This has applications to MAVS as a very simply guidance and control system, where the small size of the computational power expected for the MAVs is a constraint.

Visit Flight International’s blog at for MAV08 conference updates this week and future postings on a wide range of subjects by the editorial team’s other blogs. Catch Rob Coppinger’s spaceflight blog at, h, y, p, e, r, b, o, l, a

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