Unmanned Systems Technology 015 | Martin UAV V-Bat | William Sachiti | Sonar Systems | USVs | Desert Aircraft DA150 EFI | SeaCat AUV/ROV | Gimbals

22 A lthough the past five years have seen an explosive growth in the market for civilian UAVs for commercial and civil use, it is the defence and heavy industry sectors that continue to provide the most eye- catching innovations in unmanned flight technology. As new technological capabilities emerge at an unprecedented rate, so greater experimentation in aeronautical and mechanical configurations become possible. That, and the absence of a pilot on board unmanned vehicles (avoiding the attendant safety and ergonomic concerns), gives aerospace engineers the incentive and the means to test new concepts in aircraft design, as well as resurrect previously abandoned ones that were deemed unfeasible owing to the (now surpassed) technology limits of the time. The distinctiveness of Martin UAV’s V-Bat comes from the latter of these. The ‘tail-sitter’ concept behind it was patented for the first time by Nikola Tesla in 1928, and has been tried out in various manned aircraft over the years, from Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau’s ‘Triebflügel’ interceptor in Nazi Germany during World War II to NASA in 1975 with an F-16 fighter. Each time it was tried, however, grave issues such as poor pilot visibility (particularly during landing) or inadequate levels of thrust at critical flight stages would lead to it being abandoned in favour of a more practical alternative. Modern flight control systems provide the means to address such concerns. The first iteration of the V-Bat (meaning Vertical-Bat or VTOL-Bat, to fit thematically with the company’s Super-Bat and Bat-4 UAVs) was created by Dr Stephen Morris, a PhD graduate in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University, who would go on to become CTO of Martin UAV until April 2017. Rory Jackson details the development of this distinctive VTOL UAV, which is based on a concept first drawn up nearly 90 years ago Lift-off at last August/September 2017 | Unmanned Systems Technology The V-Bat’s custom autopilot and control algorithms allow mid-mission transition between hover and flight