Improved micro-UAV faces September tests

This story is sourced from Flight International
Subscribe today »

Honeywell has doubled the flight endurance, upgraded the sensors and fixed GPS software bugs in its micro air vehicle (MAV) in preparation for a critical design review (CDR) later this month.

The ducted-fan vertical take-off and landing MAV is now being developed under a US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)/Army technology demonstration.

The modifications followed a month of testing last October involving 10 air vehicles at the US Army Pacific Command’s urban warfare training centre in Honolulu, Hawaii. Missions demonstrated included ambush detection, building assaults and route reconnaissance.

“There were sensor vibration issues. Honeywell has changed the vibration isolation mounting,” says DARPA MAV programme manager Brad Tousley.

“We’ve doubled the fuel volume, but our newer sensors and reworked wiring and electronics took some weight off.” The MAV now weighs 7.8kg (17.2lb). “Over time we expect that the vehicle will evolve back to a wet weight in the 7.3kg range,” he says.

Amounting to 0.1kg, the fuel increase boosts endurance from 28min to over 50min, while other small modifications include a starter button instead of a lawnmower-type pull-cord and interface changes to the tablet-PC sized observer controller unit.

A version powered by a small diesel engine that will extend flying time to over 1h will also fly in six months.

After the CDR, US Army Pacific Command will from September test 50 MAVs for six to eight weeks. These will include Stryker vehicle-mounted tests to investigate launch methods and missions to counter improvised explosive devices.

From December the MAV will be operational with Pacific Command’s 25th infantry division.

Clarification: In our story last week, “Battlelab gets ready for Australian connection” , we incorrectly identified the Australian participant as the Australian Research Council’s Centre for Autonomous Systems. The correct organisation is the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney. The article also referred to the Australian Department of Defence’s Joint Project 2101 research into distributed data fusion. That project is separate to the planned Centre for Field Robotics-USAF UAV Battlelab distributed data fusion demonstration effort.