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An unmanned aerial vehicle

An unmanned aerial vehicle

All right. Hi, everyone. Raise your hand
if you’re a nerd. Yes. Good. Good, good, good. All right. You don’t have to keep it
up for the full 10 minutes. All right. I was a nerd. Oh, wait. hold on. Why is the video not playing? All right. There we go. All right. So I’ve been a really
big toy nerd all my life. That’s me, back when, I think
I was 9 or 10 years old. I found a bucket of
K’Nex, and I was in love with things that moved. And as I grew, I became
more of an airplane nerd. So you can see me
over here flying one of my wings, the
awkward teenage stage where I was doing Olympiad and flying
these powered airplanes around. And then I eventually
graduated to making big things and doing competitions. That big red airplane is about
six or seven feet across, for a sense of scale. So I did all these
RC airplanes, and I decided that’s what I
wanted to do in undergrad and came to MIT for
grad school where I led the development
of the Locust micro UAV. This is a small airplane. It’s about the size
of a dollar bill. Some of you guys may
have seen me demo it yesterday out in the tent. And the idea was, OK,
there’s a lot of missions where it may be
really useful to be able to have a lot of
little airplanes fly around. If any of you have
seen the movie Twister, you remember Dorothy, where you
would launch a number of probes to go measure the
things inside a tornado? You can also do the same
thing inside hurricanes, you can use this
for communications, you can use this for ISR
for military missions. And it’s because a big airplane
can hold a lot of these. You can fire out 100 at a time,
and just having them fly around and do their mission. And so here is the team I lead
with some of our professors. And over here,
this plot shows you the weight of aircraft that
are available, and over here is the altitude. So we are all the way up there. So this is kind of
a brave new world. We’re really, really tiny, but
we’re really, really high up. And the size of the dots
represents the endurance time of these aircraft. And we actually fly pretty
long for something that small. The vehicle, we decided,
should come along with a case. This is the protective
case, and this really enables the mission to happen. Think outside the box a little
bit, tack on extra parts. And the way it works
is that there’s a release mechanism here
and spring loaded hinges. And this opens up
like a clam shell. And the airplane itself is
made of a big low-drag Kevlar fuselage, the wings
here are spring loaded, and it’s got to
push a propeller. So during deployment,
this doesn’t need any servos, or
motors, or solenoids, or whatever to deploy. Everything is spring-loaded. The moment that that
release mechanism triggers, you just pop open,
and you start flying. The reason why this makes sense
is because the whole system is designed around that
deployment system, the one that showed you with the
flares launching from the big transport aircraft. The airplane folds up this
way, and the case here, directs the ejection
force around the aircraft, so the aircraft, itself, can
stay late and stay efficient. And here’s a video of
the wings deploying. And the way this is designed
is that it comes out, and then during deployment,
the case will open like that, it generates a lot of
drag, the airplane, itself, which is a lot less draggy,
will continue to fall. All right. So this also generates
kind of a problem. You had this airplane
that now pops out. How do you control it? And the way we
decided to do that was to have a series
of servos and wipers which automatically engage
the control surfaces at the back of the
wings here like that, so that as you deploy,
your wings automatically come into contact
with these control surfaces by pushing down
on them because they’re spring loaded up, that allows
you to control the airplane. There’s a lot of fancy
micro aerodynamics. I won’t get into
them for this talk. But designing these wings
and designing this control mechanism was one of the big
challenges of the project. So this is another
thing that I’ll owe to my years of
flying RC airplanes is that I was a test pilot
for these little airplanes. So here was a video of
us flying them around– really pain in the butt
to fly, by the way, because they’re really
tiny and hard to see. But explore your passions. You don’t know when they’re
going to come in to use. And in this case, my years
of just playing around with remote control
toys was really helpful in the development
of our vehicle. And there you go. And at MIT, the
team that I led, we developed the airframe and
also the propulsion system. So this is designing the wings,
the fuselage, how all that fits together, how it deploys. And to conclude our efforts on
campus, what we decided to do was, OK, we want to demonstrate
this entire system as it drops. So here’s a composite
shot of a test we did with a balloon platform. And over here, on this side,
you can see the deployment case as it falls away
from the vehicle. And the vehicle here is
traced out in the orange line. And you can see how, as
it deploys, it falls away and it launches
into its own flight. All right. So Locust into Perdix. Perdix, you may have heard,
is the production version of this vehicle and is
developed by our good friends at MIT Lincoln
Laboratory, which also helped to fund the project. And it was actually featured on
60 Minutes a couple of months ago where they actually built
100 of these little airplanes and launched them out of F-18s
over the Turner Lake testing range in California. And so remember you’re
building these little toys, but they have real impact. And this is now kind of a
big deal and a real thing that we’ll be spooling up soon. And I wouldn’t be surprised
if, in a couple of years, you’ll will get multipoint
telemetry information about hurricanes, or storms, or
you’ll see these on the news, and they’ll be chasing bad
guys around the desert. But you’ll see a lot
of them flying around. And by the way,
that these work is that they have onboard
autopilots each, and they generate
a mesh network. So all you have to do
is to tell one of them go explore this area. They’ll tell their friends,
and they’ll all fly over there and they’ll perform
their mission, to be able to fly around. So you’re commanding, not
an airplane individually, but the whole swarm. And that’s also a new
paradigm that happens. All right. So my personal tips for you
guys, as buddy inventors. Buy broken stuff and fix it. That, up there,
is my motorcycle. Well, actually, it’s
my old motorcycle. And you can see two
things wrong with it. First of all,
there’s a big puddle of oil on the ground where
there shouldn’t be any. And second of all,
there’s a laptop hooked up to it because the
computer onboard didn’t work. So you buy it, you don’t even
know if it’s going to work, just do it. Find stuff that’s
cheap on Craigslist, and just play around with it. You learn an amazing amount
by looking at what’s broken, how it broke, and
how other people have proposed fixes in the past. This is my car door. When the speakers
blew out, you actually discover that, oh, hey,
the reason why it blew out is because there is rust. Why is there rust? Because there’s water. Why is there water? Because it’s the
window seal failed. So if you were to
design a car, you’d probably want to
look out for that. All right. Notice the little
details in life. I mean, don’t miss
the big picture, but pay attention to
the small-scale too. Really innocuous daily
things– so these little bread tags, right, if you
fold them, they turn white. Why? Well it’s because
they’re both amorphous and crystalline structures
inside that plastic. And that is actually because
your strain energy put into it causes the polymers
to crystallize. Little other things. This is my favorite tidbit
about commercial airplanes, by the way. Anytime you get into an
airplane, look above the door. All right? There’s always this line. OK. It’s not there for strength
because every single door has it, and it causes extra drag,
so you would put it inside, if you knew it had to be there. The reason why it’s there
is it is a rain gutter. OK? This is a small clever device
that keeps you people dry as they board on the airplanes. It’s pretty cute. And lastly, find a
passionate community. Here’s a picture of
my friend’s truck. We were going up flying
on top of the mountain. Here’s a bunch of airplanes, and
here is a bunch of us flying. But don’t believe
everything they say. don’t be afraid to be a rebel. Learn from your colleagues,
but play, keep the light heart, and you’ll do great. All right. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] All right. Thanks, Tony.

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