Behold part of the future Flextrotor flies from autonomous boat.

I can't get enough of this platform

The aircraft is Aerovel’s 20-kg Flexrotor, which combines VTOL and small footprint with Hawaii-to-West Coast range. The carrier is a 4-metre skiff equipped to launch, retrieve, and service Flexrotor automatically. In what are believed to be the first-ever flight cycles of an unmanned aircraft based on an unmanned boat, Flexrotor launched from the remotely-controlled skiff while underway, climbed out as a helicopter, transitioned to wing-borne flight, imaged the skiff while flying at low and high speeds, transitioned back to thrust-borne flight, and retrieved autonomously onboard. The aircraft then shut down, was automatically refueled and restarted, and repeated the first flight, finally being secured onboard in a docking station. Aircraft and skiff then came ashore, and were driven 100 miles home into the setting sun.

Tad is a wonderful friend to sUAS News and we can't thank him enough for the scoop. Keep reading sUAS News folks we will keep you a couple weeks ahead of the rest ;-)

Views: 1922

Comment by Morli on October 20, 2013 at 9:37am

very interesting airframe , my interest is in the nose mechanics :)

Comment by Harry on October 20, 2013 at 9:57am

Youre gonna need a bigger boat.:)

Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on October 20, 2013 at 10:15am

It looks like the skiff is powered by a trolling motor. I think that you can see the trolling motor on the stern of the skiff. They must have a large servo mechanism attached to it to provide directional control?


TCIII ArduRover2 Developer

Comment by Gary McCray on October 20, 2013 at 5:10pm

Really nice UAS and performed really well though I see 2 problems.

The first compensatable that transition to horizontal flight seems to require a considerable loss of altitude while diving to pick up fixed wing flying speed.

And the other, probably more serious problem seems to be that that pin point landing method is going to have very serious difficulties in any serious windy or gusty conditions.

It gave me a thought though drop a retractable tether and let the landing base pull it in.

Like the Navy and Coast Guard does with their manned copters to small ships and tiny landing platforms on pitching decks in nasty weather.

Just a thought,


Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on October 20, 2013 at 6:23pm

Pretty neat.  I didn't realize it was a single rotor.  How are they countering torque?  Aileron deflection?

Landing does look pretty sketchy.  I wonder how much wind it can handle?  

I like the way way it fully commits to the landing.  :)

Comment by Harry on October 20, 2013 at 10:12pm

I was wondering why it looked like another prop was in the video.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on October 21, 2013 at 6:12am

Don't forget Tad developed the ScanEagle and flew the Aerosonde across the Atlantic so I am sure he has some interesting ideas for this one.

Comment by elad orbach on October 21, 2013 at 10:24am

extremely well done!!!

bravo hats off for those guys

instead of complaining make it better :)

Comment by Morli on October 21, 2013 at 10:38am

Some of very radical ideas put in use.  Very inspiring. The tail folding flat to fuse while landing is nagging in back of my mind however.

Comment by Randy on October 21, 2013 at 7:27pm

That is quite an achievement.  Was the landing really autonomous?!  A great achievement whether it was or not.


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