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.