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AUVSI: Unmanned Coanda-effect saucer makes debut

A saucer-shaped unmanned air vehicle with a unique approach to vertical lift and forward flight made its public debut at AUVSI.

Poway, California-based Radeus Labs, primarily builds electronics for UAV ground control systems, but is attempting to branch into aircraft manufacturing with the RL-5.

The prototype on display reveals a unique configuration: two sets of counter-rotating, variable-pitch blades surrounding a disc containing brushless electric motors with two ducted fans mounted topside, says Radeus co-founder Ray Hayden.

The vehicle uses the spinning motion of the blades to pull the airflow around the disc, creating a Coanda effect to generate lift for vertical take-off and hover.

In forward flight, the top-mounted thrusters engage as the counter-rotating blades are feathered, which converts the saucer into an auto-gyro, Hayden says.

Hayden envisions the RL-5 as performing a wide variety of roles, including surveillance and even rescue missions.

So far, Hayden has flown a similar vehicle indoors in vertical mode only. He made the decision to display the RL-5 at the Unmanned Systems convention only two weeks ago, with the goal of attracting investors and support for launching outdoor testing.

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