View Full Version : Robot Plane Can Find Thermals to Stay Aloft

2005-Oct-06, 07:25 PM
SUMMARY: NASA engineers tested out a prototype unmanned sailplane this week at the Dryden Flight Research Center in California. This robotic aircraft is capable of detecting and using rising air thermals, similar to a glider or bird, to gain altitude. It launched from the ground, and navigated to a likely location for updrafts. Once it found a thermal, it turned off its engine and circled to stay within the updraft. NASA hopes to develop techniques for using thermals that could extend the range of unmanned aerial vehicles that often have very limited fuel.

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