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Coaxial rotorcraft nano air vehicle to be sold from 2010

A coaxial rotorcraft nano air vehicle (NAV) with a mass of less than 20g (0.7oz), a maximum length of 100mm (3.93in) and a video camera payload capability is under development by Hvalstad, Norway based-NAV rotorcraft start-up company Prox Dynamics.

Flight testing is planned to begin in August and and the NAV is expected to be available for commercial sales from 2010.

Designed to operate outside in wind speeds of at least 13.6kt (25km/h) and offer an endurance that is "a significant fraction of an hour", the Prox Dynamics' Black Hornet PD-100 NAV helicopter will have a carbonfibre structure and use Chinese batteries that can be fully charged in 5min.

The first version will not be fully autonomous, and inside buldings will need manual input from a pilot via remote control. Its microelectronics and sensors will come from the model aircraft industry and its range is limited by the video link.

It has yet to be decided whether the vision system will help with guidance. A numerical model of the helicopter's fight envelope also has to be developed and the company says it already has secured $1 million of funding for the project.

"I worked in a supporting role to one US company involved in the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Nano Air Vehicle programme", says Prox Dynamics' chief executive Petter Muren.

That programme has a goal of a wind speed operational limit of up to 19.4kt. Muren's own lightest helicopter to date is 70mm long and weighs less than 1g, but it has no payload capability.

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