DARPA has created a "robo-arm" for launching and catching drones

American DARPA reports partial success of the SideArm project, dedicated to quick launch and, more importantly, instant landing of bulky military drones on any suitable patch. In the latest experiment, a 181-kilogram Lockheed Martin Fury was caught in the network, and in the future, the system will be able to serve drones weighing up to half a ton.

Launching aircraft from a catapult with a minimum take-off run is the day before yesterday. As well as landing with an aerofiner, however, in both cases, there remains a strong need for a spacious deck. SideArm authors proposed to fix the braking cable and fishing net on a single, portable compact mast. A kind of butterfly net - large and heavy.

The off-set UAV models with SideArm take off normally, using a short-stroke catapult. When landing, it transforms into a brake with a hook, which dampens the speed of the drone, flips it in the air and literally lowers it into the finishing net. Minimum overload and mechanical damage - engineers are extremely satisfied with the reliability of their design.

The dimensions of the SideArm system are adapted to a typical shipping container, so it can be mounted on a ship where there is physically no room for arranging a take-off deck. Or on the chassis of a light truck, on board a submarine, on a railway platform, etc. The service team has only 2-4 people who will be able to deploy and operate the system right on the front line, in a short time.

The biggest plus of the SideArm system is its versatility, the concept of placing a catapult on "any naval unit" is implemented here without costly and complex upgrades. Minus - this is just a project and now DARPA needs partners who would be engaged in the production of SideArm and adaptation to current models of military drones.