Eight more micro air vehicle (MAV) designs have been chosen by the French DGA procurement agency as part of a three-year competition that it hopes will lead to French soldiers being equipped with MAVs by 2010. Four of the eight were part of the original field of 20, from which 10 participants were chosen in June 2003 (Flight International, 15-21 July 2003). The remaining four are new entrants.
The winning teams will each get €40,000 ($49,000) from the DGA to continue developing their projects, which range from the CPX4 by the Institut National Polytechnique for quadrirotors, to the Birotan project by a Franco-Mexican-Australian team for a convertible MAV.
By June 2005 the competitors must be able to make their MAV fly a course through an uninhabited village following a scenario such as might be met by foot soldiers in an urban situation. The vehicles can measure between 150mm (6in) and 700mm in diameter, be of a "non-aggressive" nature and be capable of extending the "natural field of vision" of an infantryman. To this end, each will carry a flying observation system, including at least one micro-video camera. Marks will be awarded for "the functional independence of the system, simplicity, hovering, and data transmission capability".
The winning team will receive a €15,000 prize, reduced from the original €23,000 announced last June. "But we are still looking for sponsors willing to increase the prize money," says the DGA.
The jury, made up of representatives from the DGA, the French army, the ONERA research agency, the Saint-Louis Franco-German institute, the Ecole des Mines engineering academy, the European Space Agency, the Brussels Royal Military School, EADS, Dassault Aviation, Sagem and Thales, say the scientific quality of the projects is high. They note that universities have put up to 30 people on to their projects and have not hesitated to go abroad, including to Australia, Belgium and Mexico, to find research students with the skills they were lacking.
The competition remains open until 1 May.
CHRISTINA MACKENZIE / PARIS
Source: Flight International