AUVSI: Flexrotor couples VTOL with endurance

Las Vegas
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The Aerovel Flexrotor UAV on display at the Hood Technology stand (booth 4615) addresses the challenge of combining the attributes of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), speed, range, and endurance.

The cigar-shaped UAV is roughly six feet in length with a large two-bladed propeller at one end. At mid-fuselage it has two straight wings with small rotors at the wingtips. The large propeller allows the aircraft to take off vertically from a special stand. When it reaches a safe altitude it can transition to normal horizontal flight.

The gas-powered Flexrotor conducted its first flight in August of 2011. Since then it has flown approximately 20 hours in testing.

Chris Johnston, vice president of sales and marketing for Hood, says this is the first time the UAV has been shown at AUVSI. Hood, a sister company of Aerovel, will make the electro-optical sensor packages for the Flexrotor.

Johnston says using the lift provided by conventional wings during horizontal flight greatly enhances Flexrotor's endurance, which is foreseen as 20h.

The company hopes to begin signing customers for the system in 2013.

Hood has also brought its new Alticam 09 EO+ sensor to the show, but it is only available for viewing in one of the Mandalay Bay's Penthouse suites. The system, which is optimised for use on the Insitu ScanEagle UAV, can distinguish facial features at ranges of up to 3,000 feet.

Johnston says this resolution is far too powerful to be effectively demonstrated in the show hall.