US design consultancy looks for partner to manufacture homeland security UAV

US design consultancy Avid is seeking a partner to develop an unusual unmanned air vehicle comprising a flying-wing mother ship powered by ducted-fan engine modules that can detach to operate autonomously as micro air vehicles (MAV).

Avid UAV concept W445
© Flight International

Blacksburg, Virginia-based Avid has applied to patent the concept, and is looking to team with a manufacturer to produce the vehicle for homeland security missions. The company does design work for developers of UAVs, including ducted-fan MAVs, “but we do not do fabrication”, says chief financial officer Nanci Hardwick. “We are looking for a partner to develop and produce our design.”

In Avid’s concept, the 6.1m (20ft)-span flying-wing UAV is propelled by eight ducted-fan engines attached to the trailing edge. The mother ship is essentially a fuel tank, says Hardwick, with the self-contained engine pods providing navigation, guidance and control, as well as propulsion. After take-off, if any engine is not needed, it can undock and fly back to base, reducing weight and drag and extending the UAV’s endurance.

Cruising at 20,000ft on an 8h surveillance mission, the mother ship can deploy an engine pod to operate autonomously as an MAV. The 610mm-diameter ducted-fan vehicle – with its own power and fuel, sensors and controls – can descend to hover close to the target, then land to be picked up and brought back. After the mission, the mother ship lands and the engine pods are reattached.

Avid says the flying-wing’s simple flight controls and basic electrical system make it more reliable and maintainable than conventional UAVs, while the engine modules are line-replaceable units.


Source: Flight International