U.S. Navy is testing a radical new drone that can take off and land vertically with just a few feet of clearance
The U.S. Navy is testing a radical new style of long-distance drone that can take off and land vertically, making it deployable from almost anywhere.
The V-Bat drone, which recently completed a fly-test over the Atlantic Ocean can be equipped with an 8 lbs. payload, travel for eight hours in one sitting, and has applications in surveillance, combat, GPS mapping, and more.
In prior test, the V-Bat pushed the boundaries of its ceiling altitude, soaring to a height of 15,000 feet and returning safely.
‘With these milestones, V-BAT has demonstrated all of the key performance parameters we set for it two years ago,’ said Phillip Jones, Martin UAV’s Chief Operating Officer in a statement.
‘The focus for the engineering team will now shift to enhancing and refining these capabilities to even better meet & exceed warfighter requirements.’
V-Bat’s defining feature, vertical landing and take-off, make it unique and in some ways, more capable, than other drones used in military operations, according to MartinUAV.
While some unmanned vehicles require ample space and even a combination of catapults and nets to launch and reclaim, the V-Bat requires only a a 20×20 foot space from which it can embark and return.
In one demonstration, the company even showed the vehicle landing in the bed of a moving truck.
The drone, operated remotely via a briefcase-lie console, is also the only such device to operate on a single engine that propels a ducted fan and is capable of transitioning from a vertical to a ‘stare’ alignment at any point during its flight.
As noted by The Drive, the V-Bat’s confluence of ‘low foot-print’ landing and take-off and its ability to carry out long range missions have made it appealing to several branches of the U.S. military.
Switching from the military’s current breed of reconnaissance drone, the RQ-7 shadow, would rid soldiers of the necessity for long runways and also provide them much needed stealth — propulsion systems in the V-Bat are apparently much quieter than their counterparts.
V-Bats have yet to be widely adopted by the military — aside from a small deployment for anti-narcotics missions — but The Drive points out that V-Bats capabilities fit firmly in the picture of The Pentagon’s vision of increasingly urban warscapes.
‘Megacities’ are likely to be the epicenter of future combat scenarios according to The Pentagon, meaning tools like V-Bat, which can be deployed readily from a relatively small space, could be crucial
Depending on whether the military adopts the V-Bat on a larger scale, the technology could also find its way into other more domestic applications, fueled by lower costs and increased demand.