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Power The Military

Micro Plane That Perches On Power Lines 192

An anonymous reader wrote in to tell us about a microplane that perches on power lines to recharge its batteries being developed as a surveillance device at MIT. As you can imagine, landing on a power line is hard to do ... and charging off transmission lines has its own problems.
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Micro Plane That Perches On Power Lines

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  • Perch? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @11:33AM (#32990734) Journal

    Would it be easier if it were more bat-like, hanging from the line instead of perching?

  • Re:prior art? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jbeaupre ( 752124 ) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @11:50AM (#32991002)
    They should just combine the pigeon and the roboroach. http://www.wireheading.com/roboroach/index.html [wireheading.com]
  • Re:Perch? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by causality ( 777677 ) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @12:07PM (#32991226)

    The 'perch' is actually quite bat-like. FTA:

    The MIT engineers' answer is to send their 30-centimetre-wide micro air vehicle (MAV) into a controlled stall, pointing its nose up at just the right point in its trajectory to collide with and hook onto the cable.

    Once it hooks the cable, it is a passive system. Check the video...it hasn't been /.ed (yet.)

    This is all very interesting but ... do we really need another way to spy on people? One would wonder how the hell our ancestors managed to survive without living in a surveillance society.

    <hypothetical>It's getting to the point that there may be a market for portable personal EMP devices when battery or supercapacitor technology advances enough. Just fire an EMP burst every so often and take out any such devices that may be near you, assuring your privacy that shouldn't have been threatened in the first place. If that harms cell phones or the computers controlling car engines and such, just do what the government does and call it "collateral damage" in the "war for privacy". You'd be putting it in terms that they understand.</hypothetical>

  • parasites (Score:3, Interesting)

    by danlip ( 737336 ) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @12:08PM (#32991238)

    I am imagining self-reproducing bird sized electricity suckers overwhelming the grid. It would make a great premise for a sci-fi movie.

  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @12:15PM (#32991330)
    So, making a copy of a song is piracy and stealing, but taking energy from a power line is clever and innovative? Seems like very selective morality for what Slashdot condemns and what they find worthy of reporting without criticism.
  • Re:Perch? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Xibby ( 232218 ) <zibby+slashdot@ringworld.org> on Thursday July 22, 2010 @12:57PM (#32992028) Homepage Journal

    I'm over thinking it. Here's a R/C plane going from VTOL to normal flight and back to VTOL.

    http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/Science-Fiction-News.asp?NewsNum=1322 [technovelgy.com]

  • Re:Charging (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 22, 2010 @01:02PM (#32992118)

    Better hope its a low charge. The power company can see unbilled usage at the plant, and are able to sense demand on the lines. I know of two cases here in Colorado where people were getting free power because of where the lines were adapted. One got fined, the other didnt, which is probably because of how he had it set up. The first actually set up a fairly fancy induction relay to power his house (and was fined for "stealing" power that was leaking out of the lines anyways), where the other just put florescent lights in his barn that lit up because of the field.

    When asked to take his lights down, he said no, and that they could move their lines if they didnt want him to use it. They did route it over his barn (a pre-existing structure).

  • Re:Perch? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <sjc@@@carpanet...net> on Thursday July 22, 2010 @01:28PM (#32992562) Homepage

    Yes but this is only a prototype. The technology has a lot of potential, and the question then becomes... if one application is small and its ok to steal tiny amounts of power that are unnoticeable over line loss, where do you draw the line? Should it just be free for all and we decide later if its a problem? What will we do when someone develops a "floating fortress" that deploys hundreds of these and tethers them to run from and recharge itself?

    Would it be acceptable to setup a fleet of these glide up, charge some batteries, then come back and get new ones and supply a constant battery power? If thats acceptable too, becuase its so small, how do you tell the next guy he can't do the same, and the next?


  • Re:Perch? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by radtea ( 464814 ) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @02:31PM (#32993654)

    That's a rather juvenile way to put it as I don't know any serious Christian who honestly believes the transcendental God of the Bible is a corporeal being who levitates in Earth's atmosphere.... but okay. They believed "that some old man in the sky was watching them all the time." They did not believe that some old man in the sky was coming up with clever ways for them to watch their neighbors all the time.

    There's a lot wrong with your claims. I guess you don't know very much about Christianity, either in contemporary practise or historically.

    The Reverend Jerry Fallwell once described the establishment of the Kingdom of God after Armageddon as "moving his headquarters from planet Heaven to planet Earth." The literal role of the sky in various Protest Fundamentalist theologies is very important, as suggested by the terminology they use to describe then end of days. [wikipedia.org]

    So saying the GP's description is juvenile is incorrect: it is a fair reflection of extremely common beliefs amongst apparently sincere and serious mainstream Christian groups that are active in the United States today.

    With regard to your second claim, I believe you ought to learn a little about the role of confession in Catholicism, particularly up to the time of the Reformation. There are perfectly sound sociological analyses of the institution that strongly suggest it was nothing but a means of social control via constant surveillance, by self and others.

    So please, before you post about Christianity inform yourself as to what actual living Christians believe and have believed. That way you won't embarrass yourself quite so much with your ignorance of this widely held an diverse faith.

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