Northrop Grumman Sues NASA For Malfunctioning UAVs

A Northrop Grumman Helicopter accident has caused the United States Patent and Trademark Office to deny a design patent for a missile system component called the RCAP (remote control application) or remotely piloted vehicle. This patent was intended to protect the U.S. operator of a remote-control-drone or robotic aerial vehicle from being held liable for damages caused by an error in judgment or the performance of their aircraft during a controlled flight. This is a very important cause, as the future of UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles is at stake.

The founder and leader of Northrop Grumman, Edmond D. Grumman invented the first R CAP (remote-control-drone) during World War II.

The name “Grumman” was later changed to “Rocketry Engineering” in honor of General Electric, the company that manufactured the first electric-powered model of the R CAP. The first aerial combat using this new invention occurred over the Pacific Ocean near the Islands of Pearl Harbor. Grumman’s design involved an aluminum propeller that was released while the aircraft was still on the ground. If the aircraft had been launched on a standard runway the propeller would have been jettisoned during landing. It is this potential danger that is the basis for the USPTO’s resistance to the design patent.

The United States military has used unmanned aerial vehicles (known as UAVs) since the 1950s in a variety of applications, including intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. The UAVs have also been used extensively in the Middle East to monitor combat zones and to locate enemy soldiers. Many countries, including the United States, have also used UAVs for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The use of remote-controlled UAVs by the United States military and its allies in Afghanistan and Iraq raises significant legal, moral, and practical issues. The U.S. patent office is concerned about how some of these nations’ own autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles may misuse copyright-protected materials and could subject the armed forces to lawsuits from those who believe their rights to the inventions were violated.

According to news reports, the Northrop Grumman Company will be releasing yet another remotely-piloted vehicle that is in development by its partner KITE Communications.

Kite is a high-tech aerospace and defense firm that is responsible for developing and building many of the military’s UAVs such as the Micon aircraft and Scanner Multi-instrument Vehicle (SMV). Kite is also responsible for the design of the UAV “Night Shadow” system, which is capable of surveillance on a limited scale during nighttime. This system will be operated by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

In a press release issued by Northrop Grumman on April 3rd, 2021 the company stated that it would begin marketing and selling its newly developed and modified autonomous UAVs to the Department of Defense through the UAV Testing Program (TVP). The company is expected to test the new dawn satellite system by launching two small unmanned aerial vehicles (small UAVs) to orbit around the Earth twice each day approximately 4 hours apart. The UAVs will fly autonomously for several hundred feet above the ground and return to land again without further hazard to the pilot or the UAV. Once returning to the earth, the operator of the UAV will control it through the Internet.

Northrop Grumman did not provide a complete or detailed account of what it will demonstrate in its new “crepitus” demonstration as of yet. However, one company executive has assured that the company will be showing the potential uses of its UAV technology to the Department of Defense. “We have demonstrated the technology transfer and will demonstrate how it works, how the system operates, and how it will work in the future. We are going to take our long-term UAV technology from the lab and demonstrate it working on UAVs on the battlefield,” said John Pace, vice president of research and development at Northrop Grumman.

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