Uber to Research Silent Rotors for U.S. Army Killer Drones

The transition Uber made in this past year from a ride-hailing company to a research one has been so swift that most hardly even noticed.
Uber Elevate 1 photo
Earlier this week, Uber unveiled a passenger drone for its UberAir business. The drone, for now called Elevate, is a construct that was realized together with Embraer and Pipistrel Aircraft with the goal of making aerial taxis of sorts a reality.

Soon after that, NASA said it would be helping Uber research the requirements to create a safe and efficient system for future air transportation over populated areas.

At about the same time, the U.S. Army, through its Research Laboratory (ARL), said it partnered with Uber to look into ways to create a silent rotor technology for drones used in various missions.

Both organizations need this type of technology, but for different purposes. When Uber entered service in the cities of the world, it drew the wrath of regular taxi drivers. Having a few dozen drones buzzing above city streets might draw the wrath of the cities' population as well.

For the Army, the advantages of having silent drones going on missions are obvious.

“When UAVs are doing a mission, they’re out there collecting or observing to collect intelligence or to do surveillance,” Jaret Riddick, director of ARL’s Vehicle Technology Directorate was quoted as saying by Army Times.

“They know a certain noise in the distance means a certain type of operation is underway. When you can do that with the advantage of not being detected it changes how you execute a mission.”

Initial research shows that one way of achieving sound reduction is making the rotors on the drones spin in the same direction. This configuration also allows for more lift power.

Uber will be testing initial concepts over the streets of Dallas Fort Worth, with NASA’s aid.


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