A tiny pilotless aircraft, built by the University of Southampton, launched from the Royal Navy’s ice patrol ship HMS Protector for the first time to assist with navigating through the Antarctic. The 3D-printed aircraft, along with a quadcopter, scouted the way for the survey ship so she could find her way through the thick ice of frozen seas. It’s the first time the Royal Navy has used unmanned aerial vehicles in this part of the world.
The ScanEagle craft provided the icebreaker with real-time, high-quality information courtesy of a detailed picture of the surrounding environment from a perspective that is only available from the air. The aircraft is made of nylon, printed in four major parts, and assembled without the use of any tools. The world’s first ‘printed’ airplane, it cruises at nearly 60 mph.