'ALICE' system could be cheaper, more reliable than spy planes, drones.
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICHPublished: MARCH 1, 2006 23:08Advertisement
A system for intelligence gathering that is tossed out of a plane for a soft landing has been designed by aeronautics students at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.
Their project will be unveiled on Wednesday at the Israel Aviation and Space Conference in Haifa.
Called "ALICE," the system is based on tossing a relatively small object out of a plane flying low and at maximum speed over enemy territory. After it falls to the ground, the object releases a pole with various intelligence equipment such as a day-and-night-vision camera, microphones and communications system on it.
Communications function via a geostationary satellite.
The main advantages of the system - compared to pilotless vehicles or spy planes - are its significant ability to survive and its low cost, according to the project's supervisor. Prof. Benny Landkoff. In addition, conventional spy planes and pilotless vehicles cannot function for long in areas protected by ground-to-air missiles.
ALICE is suited to a wide variety of planes because it is small, lightweight and can be hung from a number of points on the plane. Eight Technion students worked on it over two semesters, and ALICE is their graduation project.
Some 500 people will attend the two-day conference, including scientists from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the vice president of the Gulfstream Company (which makes executive jets), leaders of the Israel Aircraft Industry and space industry, and scientists from RAFAEL (Israel Armaments Development Authority), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell University and the University of Cambridge.
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