A segmented unmanned airship design that uses a single swivelling engine technology enabling vectoring thrust has completed a series of flight tests.

The non-rigid segmented lighter-than-air unmanned air vehicle is being developed for the high altitude airship Stratellite product by Sanswire-Tao, a joint veture between Florida based-Sanswire corporation and German company Tao Technologies.

Capital raised from European private investors will be used by Tao to develop the autonomous flight controls, patented energy storage and propulsion systems for high altitude testing. The funding will also support scaled prototype construction and untethered testing.

Seeking further funding Sanswire has also provided information to satellite services company Global Telesat (GTC) about the joint venture's overall UAV capabilities.

For GTC, Sanswire contrasted its lighter-than-air, non-rigid, segmented cell airship design with other UAV concepts such as the flying wing or rigid blimp-like vehicles. It also examined the implementation of autonomous flight control systems with segmented cell vehicles and outlined the route to producing medium endurance vehicles immediately and future long-endurance concepts.

"This...study further illustrates our ability to provide an unmanned platform for communications and persistent surveillance. We look forward to integrating our technologies with GTC and expanding our business opportunities," says Sanswire chief executive Jonathan Leinwand.

To view a video clip of the recent UAV test flights go to the Flight International blog.

Source: Flight International