AeroVironment has set an endurance record for hand-launched micro air vehicles (MAV), achieving a flight of 1h 47min thanks to a design that combines the batteries with the structure.

California-based AeroVironment's Wasp MAV has been developed under the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) synthetic multifunctional materials programme.

The design replaces separate battery and structure components with a material system that supplies electrical energy for propulsion while carrying wing loads. The Wasp is a radio-controlled flying-wing MAV with a span of 330mm (13in) and a combined wing structure/battery pack weighing 120g (0.26lb). The total vehicle weight amounts to 170g.

The vehicle uses rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and the energy density of the wing structure-battery is 143W/kg, with an average power output during flight of over 9W, says DARPA.

The next-generation Wasp, which is under development, will incorporate a simple autopilot and be able to carry a colour video camera payload.

Source: Flight International