PRESS RELEASE - Tel Aviv, 18 December 2013
"AirMule Achieves Major Milestone on the Path to Full Mission Demonstrations"
The AirMule, an unmanned VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) aircraft developed by Tactical Robotics Ltd., a subsidiary of Urban Aeronautics, Ltd., has successfully completed a major milestone in preparation for full mission demonstrations scheduled for next year. The aircraft has completed several fully automatic test flights in which it carried out take-offs, flights to and from a specified location and landing back at its point of origination.
The 1-ton vehicle is unique from all existing vertical take-off and landing aircraft in that it has no exposed rotors. This allows the aircraft to fly in air space that is off limits for any other aircraft.
During these tests height above ground is maintained by two laser altimeters (to be augmented soon by a radar altimeter for dusty conditions). Accurate position is maintained through data fusion of GPS signals, INS data and optical reference to markers on the ground.
Acoustic signature (Sound Pressure Level in dBA) has been recorded as a function of distance from the aircraft to a calibrated microphone and has been found to be significantly lower than an equivalent helicopter.
Additional flight testing is planned for next year with a second prototype, now in construction, planned to join the flight test program in the second half of 2014.
About Urban Aeronautics and Tactical Robotics
Urban Aeronautics Ltd, is the world leader in developing Fancraft technologies. These technologies are the foundation for a family of internal rotor (modified ducted-fan) aircraft with both manned and unmanned, civil and military applications. Due to their internal rotors, compact design and revolutionary 'six-degrees-of-freedom’ mobility, these aircraft are uniquely suited to flight inside of cities and other obstructed environments where both fixed wing aircraft and traditional rotorcraft are unable to operate. Urban's subsidiary, Tactical Robotics Ltd. develops these technologies for the military and unmanned market including the company's flagship model, AirMule.
A video showing extracts from AirMule's recent test flights:
Press Contact: Janina Frankel-Yoeli: +972-54-463-3922; [email protected]
Testing of the AirMule prototype is continuing. As of June 2013 we have already accumulated a few hours of testing with the new six bladed rotors installed. The blade design complies with the loads specified in the FAA's FAR 35 standard for propellers. To verify the strength of the blades we have built a representative blade retainment section and tested it as shown in the attached photographs. The tests were run to twice the centrifugal load (which amounted to 22 tons pull on each blade retention fitting).
Most of the testing at this time is focused on improving the automatic takeoff and landing sequence in preparation for transitional flight which will commence in the next few weeks. The first transitional tests will be carried out with the aircraft still tethered to the ground but this time with a single safety wire long enough to permit flight to the end of the runway. The full test sequence will be a flight to the end of the runway, stopping, turning 180 degrees in hover and flying back to the point of origin with a final landing on a marker placed on the ground. We will update on the progress of these tests in our next update.
The testing of AirMule is continuing. Initial hovers with Controp's D-STAMP payload (see April 2012 update) have shown a stable and noise free image of a landing marker placed on the tarmac. The next steps involve estimating the position of the marker relative to the aircraft and having the FCS plan and execute an autonomous final approach for landing next to the marker. We expect this phase to be completed in 2-3 months.
Another development is the completion of 'in-house' manufacture of 12 composite rotor blades (see picture below) for our two new six bladed rotors that we plan to install on the aircraft next month. These rotors will replace the present, four bladed rotors that have been used since the beginning of 2010. The new rotors have the same diameter and RPM as the original four bladed sets but are expected to increase the payload by approximately 200 Kilograms and are much closer to the final production version than the initial rotors were. The design of the blade (section, planform, layup, wash-out, stress analysis etc.) as well as construction of tooling, rotor hubs, variable pitch mechanism, blades and all retention and other associated hardware have all been carried out by the engineers and workshop personnel at Urban Aeronautics. The blade design complies with the loads specified the FAA's FAR 35 standard for propellers.