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Firefly Rocket Drone Can Travel Over 550 MPH!

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Firefly is a Mach 0.8, 3D printable rocket drone designed to be expendable for military and data collecting applications. This unique UAV can be deployed from a moving aircraft. It was created from a challenge offered by the U.S. Air Force to MIT, according to Popular Mechanics. The challenge required a team to design a UAV up to 2.5 inches in width and up to 17 inches in length. The micro drone would also need to travel a minimum speed of 550 mph at an altitude of 20,000 feet. The end product was Firefly, a 2 to 3 pound micro rocket drone that could travel approximately 614 mph up to 3 minutes before being discarded. Even though this UAV will further be refined and tuned for better performance, it is still considered the first drone of its kind. Here’s a preview of the drone through engineeringdotcom’s YouTube video:

Mini Rocket Drone

FireFly is powered by a rocket motor that runs on a mixture of different fuels. Unlike a typical rocket, which burns itself out in one to three seconds, this UAV was created with a burn-rate suppressant that “cools the flame and changes the flame structure so that it actually burns slower,” said MIT’s aero-astro PhD student Tony Tao in an article published by Interesting Engineering.

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Firefly can be 3D printed out of titanium, and it will use a spring-loaded wing and a tail for steering. The payload will be placed on the top section of the drone.

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Who Created the Firefly?

Firefly was created by a team from MIT Beaver Works, which is a collaboration between MIT and Lincoln Laboratory. According to MIT Technology Review, Firefly is a product that has been worked on for three years now.

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Uses

In engineeringdotcom‘s video, the Firefly was described to be capable of being sent into the eye of a hurricane with a sensor payload. Its high speed capability and design would allow the drone to accomplish tasks unlike any other UAV its size. Being that the Firefly was initially created from a challenge from the Air Force, it will probably be used primarily for military purposes.

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The fact that this drone can be 3D printed makes it a cost-effective tool for the military. It is still being developed, but the main design has already been established. Firefly can be seen as a pioneer rocket drone, so it will set how other micro rocket-fueled UAVs will be used in the future.

 

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