By Kalwinder Kaur
The Air Force has reported the selection of the MLB V-Bat VTOL UAV for a Phase II SBIR award. The Air Force looks for a vehicle that has 55 lbs gross take-off weight, an 8-foot wingspan, 70 mph cruise speed, and 10 hour endurance.
The V-Bat features fixed wing duration, VTOL operational convenience, and the security of a shrouded fan in a tiny UAV system. It will transform the utility and availability of local situational responsiveness for UAV activities from confined areas. Under a DARPA contract in 2011, MLB illustrated accurate emplacement of tiny payloads from the V-Bat running in hover mode under a vision-based control system.
Under the Phase II SBIR award, MLB will develop vehicles and carry out an extensive flight test program for the V-Bat across all phases of flight in completely autonomous operational demonstrations. Brigham Young University will design control algorithms and provide support for flight tests. AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems will work on the development of the system design for low-rate initial production and fine tune perquisites through customer engagement.
Strong mission pull is there for Tier II sized long endurance VTOL vehicles. A commercial customer originally requested the V-Bat design for aerial mapping. Commercial groups looking for an anti-piracy solution and potential customers in numerous government agencies have approached MLB. The potential for this vehicle is diverse and sizeable, and the requirement is immediate. MLB will showcase its V-Bat at the AUVSI show from August 7 to 9, 2012.