Xerox Company Receives Funds to Develop Vanishing Autonomous Air Vehicles

PARC, a Xerox company, announced it has received funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under its ICARUS program.

The ICARUS program (for Inbound, Controlled, Air‐Releasable, Unrecoverable Systems) seeks to develop a prototype air vehicle capable of autonomously delivering small payloads to targeted locations, and then vanishing once it has completed its mission. PARC, in collaboration with AeroVironment Inc., aims to develop the specialized materials and autonomous air delivery system that can be made to vanish under a project within ICARUS known as ONLY-DUST (On-Target Delivery and Disintegration Upon Stress-release Trigger).

The goal of the project is to develop complex structures that are extremely stable during storage and flight, while still allowing reliable on-demand transience. By collaborating with AeroVironment Inc., the leader in small, unmanned aerial vehicles, the demonstration system may potentially be rapidly scaled for DoD applications.

“This project hopes to demonstrate an aircraft made entirely of a special transient glass material,” said Scott Limb, PARC researcher and principal investigator for the ONLY-DUST project. “Material transience occurs when it becomes unstable. The challenge has been to find an extremely stable material under a wide set of conditions that can instantaneously vanish, but only when commanded.”

The key enabling technology is a highly engineered glass material with controlled stress profiles and embedded elements that make it structurally robust, but capable of instantaneously fracturing into grains too small to be visible under normal conditions. Read more


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