Drones, the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) used by governments and other officials, have been more publicly visible and debated over in the US, but are emerging (and already apparent) in the old world as well. The latest European iteration of the EU-commissioned 3D printed UAV is called 2Seas, which will eventually patrol the English channel and the North Sea. Ffirst tests were completed last month, which you can view in the short video below.
2Seas, created by University of Southampton aeronautical engineers Jim Scanlan and Andy Keane, has a large 4 metre wingspan and is capable of flying as long as 5 hours at 100km/h (62mph). Due to the sheer size of the drone and unlike its predecessor SULSA, 2Seas’ body parts weren’t completely 3D printed – no 3D printer is yet capable to meet the demands of a project such as this. The wings and the tail are therefore made out of carbon fibre, but the central wing box, fuel tank and engine mounting are all manufactured using 3D printing tech.
Because 2Seas is supposed to be able to stand extreme conditions for long periods of time, the drone still needs further testing to be able to meet its time target of starting full service in 2015. After that, it will be assisting the coast guard, police and other authorities in the UK, Netherlands, Belgium and France in illegal fishing, drug-boats and monitoring general risks to shipping.
Image courtesy of University of Southampton