Printing Planes With Artificial Brains

I caught this over the weekend: New Scientist reports (Link) on Lockheed Martin’s “Skunk Works” group developing a rapid-prototyped parts unmanned aircraft. Needless to say this couldn’t be more at the center of what I blog here – UCAV’s are a big component in some defense department transreality work (see one of my earlier posts on this: reLink).

From the article:

The Skunk Works thinks a technique called 3D rapid prototyping, or “3D printing”, is the best way to lower costs.

The technique is widely used in industry to make prototype parts – to see if, for instance, they are the right shape and thickness for the job in hand. Now the strength of parts printed this way has improved so much that they can be used as working components.

About 90 per cent of Polecat is made of composite materials with much of that material made by rapid prototyping.

The Polecat is also a test bed for autonomous guidance technology, which allows it to do everything from take-off to reconnaissance and landing without the remote guidance of a ground pilot.

Interesting (and maybe scary) stuff.