Monday, June 4, 2012
It's a bird! It's a plane! Actually, it's Phantom Eye - an enormous drone that completed its first autonomous test flight in California on June 1st, according to an announcement made today by Phantom Eye's creator, Boeing.
The test flight took place at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base. Phantom Eye was airborne for 28 minutes, reports Boeing, and reached an altitude of 4,080 feet. That pales in comparison to what Phantom Eye is designed to do: fly for up to 4 days at a time, and reach heights of 65,000 feet.
The Phantom Eye has a 150 foot wingspan, which according to Wired.com's blog Danger Room, is a big deal:
The Phantom Eye’s size means the drone can be loaded up with a whopping 450 lbs. of sensors and cameras — which will come in handy for toting the military’s forthcoming spy gear, like Gorgon Stare, designed to spy on “city-size” areas, or the Army’s ARGUS sensor, which collects 79.8 hours of video footage each day. Combine that capacity with a lengthy loiter time, and you’ve got a high-flying spy system that can peek on entire cities for days at a time.