Futuristic unmanned aircraft can swap between fixed and rotary wing
Concept can take off and land vertically but still have the speed of a fixed-wing aircraft.
This could be the future of military aviation.
It is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with technology which allows it to switch between fixed-wing flight and rotary-wing flight on the same mission.
That means it benefits from vertical take-off and landing as well as the ability to hover, thanks to its rotary wings.
Once airborne, it can switch to fixed-wing mode for greater speed and range.
A computerised fleet of the aircraft – in simulated action – can be seen in a mock-up video created by BAE Systems which developed the technology with students from Cranfield University.
“The battlefield of the future will require novel solutions to meet emerging threats and to keep human operators safe wherever they may be’,” said Professor Nick Colosimo, BAE Systems’ futurist and technologist.
“The Adaptable UAVs concept and related technologies are one of a number of concepts being explored through close collaboration between industry and students in academia.”
A spokesman for BAE Systems said: “This novel technology could allow UAVs to better adapt to evolving future battlefield situations and, through working together in a swarm, tackle sophisticated air defences as well as operating in complex and cluttered urban environments.”
Underpinning the machines is adaptive flight control and advanced navigation and guidance software.
Engineers at BAE Systems envisage take-off/landing attached to a pole to avoid strong winds or sideways movement throwing it off course. The aircraft would slide up or down them to take off as though on a firemen’s pole.
The spokesman added: “The pole constrains the lateral or sideways movement of the UAV when being launched or recovered so strong winds cannot dislodge them and avoids any damage to personnel nearby. This is particularly important when recovering a UAV to the aft of a ship or a land vehicle.
“The pole’s gyro-stabilised element also ensures that it remains upright independently of the host vehicle’s orientation, which may be rolling if on a ship, or in the case of a land vehicle driving up or down a slope at the time of the launch or recovery.”
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