Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
20 Jan 22. Overair, Inc., developer of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, today announced the successful commencement of Butterfly’s full-scale propulsion system test program, a significant milestone towards Overair’s target of first flight by 2023. Some of the most important attributes of an eVTOL aircraft are safety, community acceptance, and economic productivity in real-world conditions, each of which is largely dictated by the vehicle’s propulsion system. Overair’s vectored thrust design and optimum speed propellers will allow Butterfly to fly safely in unforeseen circumstances and diverse weather conditions, all with higher payload capabilities. The achievement of this testing empowers Overair to confirm its design choices early in development.
“Achieving our full-scale propulsion test goals is an exciting milestone for the Butterfly program” said Jim Orbon, Butterfly Program Manager at Overair. “Not only does it allow us to validate our design choices and correlate our simulation results to real-world data, but it also proves the team’s technical capabilities and ability to execute our development plans. But this milestone is a means to an end. Next stop, full-scale prototype, with long-lead-time parts currently underway.”
Overair’s vectored thrust design is aerodynamically efficient and takes best advantage of the company’s unique technology inherited from Karem Aircraft. Butterfly is a fundamentally different vehicle than other EVTOLs. It leverages Overair’s proprietary propulsion design with very large propellers relative to other EVTOLs, while also relying on highly efficient wing-borne flight for cruising over longer distances. As a result of their size, Butterfly’s propellers can spin slower during various phases of operation (hover, transition, cruise), which makes them quieter and draw less power from the batteries. Thanks to substantial power and control margins, these large propellers provide unmatched efficiency — an incredibly important attribute when flying high-tempo urban routes in varied environments.
The propulsion test companion video was filmed in the Southern California desert, where the system is being evaluated in an environment that simulates some of the most demanding aerodynamic conditions anticipated in real-world operations. The video captures the team subjecting the propeller blades and hub components to forces that will be experienced during flight operations, as they validate Overair’s flight dynamics simulation software tools.
Overair will continue to execute their Butterfly program as efficiently as possible, focusing on certification as the finish line. The development of flight control systems, tilting mechanisms, and the cabin interior are the next priorities for Overair as they target a first prototype flight by 2023 and continue to advance Butterfly’s FAA certification with the goal of entering commercial service in 2026. (Source: PR Newswire)
20 Jan 22. Elbit Systems UK builds British industrial team to deliver advanced Uncrewed Air Systems (UAS). Elbit Systems UK has built a strong industrial team in the UK to compete for specific UAS programmes that are emerging. Team Elbit will leverage the capabilities of partner organisations, a broad range of suppliers, and Elbit Systems’ own expertise and experience as a world leader in UAS design and systems integration, delivering agile innovation to meet new and emerging UAS requirements.
Led by Elbit Systems UK, the team will include their Joint Venture UAV Tactical Systems (U-TacS). Based in Leicester, the U-TacS team are already responsible for delivering the world-renowned Watchkeeper UAV to the British Army, and will undertake system integration, through-life support, and through-life management. The team will use their skills and knowledge to deliver fully integrated and supported UAS capabilities, exploiting their knowledge of each team member, and combining this with best-in-class sub-systems and technologies.
The team also comprises QinetiQ who will work with Elbit Systems UK to drive innovation by developing a collaborative supplier framework of leading UAS technology; and UAS specialist SME, Aviation Systems Group (ASG), who will support Team Elbit in the management of Air Safety, Airworthiness, support to operational flight planning and training in the UK as a Recognised Assessment Entity (RAE) for small UAS.
Elbit Systems has a proven and extensive UAS portfolio including fully integrated fixed wing and vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) systems in multiple classes. The company has been a world leading system integrator for UAS, including mini and tactical systems, since 1996.
The team will also collaborate with a wide range of suppliers in related disciplines including platforms, payloads, communications, and processing to deliver best-in-class capabilities with rapid and continual technology refresh.
Martin Fausset, CEO of Elbit Systems UK said:
“Elbit Systems UK has been a pioneer, and is now well established in delivery, evolution and support of integrated UAS capability to the UK MOD. Team Elbit will leverage the successes and expertise of all the partners, to meet future requirements with best-in-class technology from our Team and a broad range of suppliers.”
19 Jan 22. UK Royal Navy’s Project Vampire – a Low-Cost, Fixed-Wing UAV. The UK Royal Navy (RN) is moving forward with plans to procure a low-cost fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as an initial increment of its Future Maritime Aviation Force (FMAF).
Dubbed Project Vampire, the acquisition aims to assess uncrewed or autonomous air systems for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, electromagnetic operations, and threat simulation.
The release of an invitation to tender (ITT) by Navy Command Headquarters on 17 January comes four months after initial demonstrations of the Banshee Jet 80+ aerial target vehicle from the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales.
Managed by the Develop Directorate within Navy Command, the FMAF programme is exploring the transition of a number of aviation roles – intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, communications, lift, and strike – from crewed to uncrewed air platforms.
As one strand of FMAF, Project Vampire aims to address a number of capability problem sets utilising a low-cost, fixed-wing UAV as a means for the development of operational concepts, payload types, and associated communication and digital architecture.
According to Navy Command, Phase 1 of Project Vampire is intended to last up to four years. Key deliverables include up to four air vehicles based on a mature design, a single launcher, a single ground station with aerials, operator and maintainer training, and technical, management and safety data to support military registration and airworthiness. (Source: UAS VISION/Janes)
18 Jan 22. In October 2021, the Royal Navy, working with BAE systems and other partners, managed to control an uncrewed Pacific 24 rigid inflatable boat while at sea. This was enabled through the adoption of a Leonardo Multi-Level Security (MLS) solution, which was developed at the company’s Yeovil site. During the week long test, the MLS provided the security protection which was designed to enable HMS Argyll to send instructions to the Pac24 to autonomously carry out basic missions, including target identification and cueing the systems camera and remote weapons station to tracked targets from its Operations room. Video and data from the Pac 24 was sent back to the Ops room.
Simon Neve, Principal Avionic Systems Engineer at Leonardo Helicopters UK, explained more on how the MLS supported the tests, “The MLS is a Leonardo Helicopters product, integrating Owl Data Diodes provided by 4Secure and Software from 4Secure, 2iC and Leonardo.”
17 Jan 22. Tactic Air Drone Launches its Highly-Anticipated Foldable Drone. Tactic Air Drone has launched a new quad copter with enhanced stability, intelligent navigation, and cutting-edge design. The 4K HD Drone is perfect for beginners and seasoned drone enthusiasts alike. It comes with a camera and packs state-of-art technology and top-notch design at an affordable price.
The remote controls for the drone are straightforward. One button to take off, other to land, and another for emergency stops to avoid collisions and obstacles. Users of the Tactic Air Drone have two ways to control the sleek device: They either pilot it with a controller or control it with their mobile phone using Wi-Fi. The drone has a height-setting advanced density pressure sensor with the help of which it can even control itself.
Now, not only does the Tactical Air Drone look good with its brushed texture and elegant design, it performs well too. It was created with rigid materials to avoid cracks, fractures from collisions. The designers made sure it was lightweight and foldable. This makes it easy to fold and transport in storage. This drone features a higher battery power of 350 mAh among its many features.
With its innovative and intelligent gesture controller, users can connect their phones to the drone to control its flight in real-time with various modes such as full-screen, split-screen and picture-in-picture. This gives the users an advantage of using both the cameras at once. Unless, of course, they wish to let the drone control itself automatically. With gesture recognition, users can choose to follow them with its smart sensors. It is perfect as a personal photographer. It also features a variety of flight maneuvers to suit different scenarios.
The creators of the Tactic Air Drone claim that this drone can fly for over 20 minutes at a stretch in comparison to other drones which can only fly for 4 to 13 minutes. This gives users the opportunity to capture more photos and record longer videos than before. In case the battery runs out, it can be swapped with another with ease thanks to the modular design.
Speaking of photos and videos, the drone is equipped with a wide-angle lens to capture videos up to 4K HD. It boasts of a 4K UHD resolution with over 9 m pixels to create high-quality pictures and videos even when flying in the air.
The creators of the Tactic Air Drone have priced it at $198, but that’s not it. They are currently selling it for a 50% discount. They ship worldwide with a 1-year warranty. In case of accidental damage, they replace the machine, much to the delight of their users. It can be purchased online from their secure website. When users buy the product, they receive the following items in the package:
- 1 Tactic Air Drone
- 1 Battery for the drone
- 1 Remote control
- 4 Spare blades
- 1 USB cable to charge the battery
- 1 User manual
- 1 Screwdriver
(Source: PR Newswire)
The British Robotics Seed Fund is the first SEIS-qualifying investment fund specialising in UK-based robotics businesses. The focus of the fund is to deliver superior returns to investors by making targeted investments in a mixed basket of the most innovative and disruptive businesses that are exploiting the new generation of robotics technologies in defence and other sector applications.
Automation and robotisation are beginning to drive significant productivity improvements in the global economy heralding a new industrial revolution. The fund allows investors to benefit from this exciting opportunity, whilst also delivering the extremely attractive tax reliefs offered by the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). For many private investors, the amount of specialist knowledge required to assess investments in robotics is not practical and hence investing through a fund structure makes good sense.
The fund appoints expert mentors to work with each investee company to further maximise the chance of success for investors. Further details are available on request.