iPhone app controls military drone flying 3,000 miles away

Concept art showing a Fire-X helicopter drone. Credit: Northrop Grumman Corporation.

Military mobile apps may one day help soldiers on the battlefield.

Engineers and researchers at Boeing Co. and MIT have developed an iPhone application to fly a miniature drone rotorcraft from some 3,000 miles away.

It just takes a few taps and swipes of the operator’s finger in Seattle to make a drone at a baseball field on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Mass., start to hover, rotate and zip around.

“These applications could allow (drones) to be used more effectively for tasks that are dirty or dangerous, as well as for missions that may be too long and tedious to have a human be continuously at the controls,” the company said on its website.

The Pentagon is testing all manner of smart devices, including iPhones and iPads, for action in war zones. It has kicked off a race among software companies and defense firms to develop innovative apps for future soldiers to operate.


Miniature rotorcraft controlled by digital devices have been available to the general public for the last few years.

AR.Drone manufactures and sales remote-controlled miniature rotorcraft that use your iPhone, iPad or Android as the control device. The app features a number of sensors, including a front camera, a vertical camera and an ultrasound altimeter.

The AR.Drone can also be used in video games, such as AR.FlyingAce, a dogfight between two AR.Drones.

Related stories

AR. Drone (ardrone)
Parrot AR Drone iPhone Controlled Helicopter (EarlyTechNews)
U.S. Military Orders Helicopter Drones to Report for Duty (innovationnewsdaily.com)

China’s first aircraft carrier

Chinese aircraft carrier anchored at Dalian port in northeast Liaoning province. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) Aug. 5, 2011

Originally built by the Soviet Union in 1988 the Aircraft Carrier Varyag now finds a home with the Chinese.

After the fall of the Soviet Union ownership of the Varyag was transferred to the Ukraine where it was stripped of parts. By 1998, she had lost her engines, rudder, and much the control systems. The Varyag was then put up for auction and sold to the Chong Lot Travel Agency for $20 million. Today China’s military has control of the carrier.

China spent the last ten years refurbishing the ship. On August 10, 2011 the carrier conducted sea trials. Xinhua News Agency said the first sea trial was in line with the country’s schedule to rebuild the carrier.

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