Unmanned Systems Technology 016 | Hydromea Vertex AUV | Power management systems | Unmanned Space Vehicles | Continental CD-155 turbodiesel | Swift 020 UAV | ECUs | DSEI 2017 Show report

63 drawn on its 30-plus years of experience of designing and building unmanned vehicles to develop what it sees as the solution to many of the common issues and trade-offs with launch and recovery that deter the adoption of unmanned systems from widespread use in responding to emergencies. The patented X-Blade technology consists of hardware, software and design aspects aimed at enabling the Swift 020 UAV to take off and land on its tails vertically, while transitioning into and out of horizontal flight to achieve the speed and geographical range of a fixed-wing platform. The company says this should ideally enable operations to and from hospital roofs, rough terrain or from the boat or truck of a first responder crew. Chief scientist Andrew Streett says, “We really started investing in the development about three years ago. When we did our Killer Bee, which is now the Bat UAV with Northrop Grumman, we needed something to launch it, and we needed a net to recover it in order to make that work. “For this new project, we really set off not just to create a better UAV but to create a VTOL platform that transitioned without any of the usual penalties, such as the Bat UAV’s net or other ancillary launch-and-recovery equipment, and with a good airfoil and aspect ratio to produce all the efficiencies of a fixed- wing aircraft. “That’s when we came up with the X-Blade technology. We knew that if we had no such penalties, our overall manufacturing costs would fall, and we would be able to scale the technology and have different applications in addition to emergency response.” Airframe The 020’s body is largely defined by its wings, measuring 10 ft in span with a 1 ft chord, while the fuselage measures about 8 x 6 x 4 in. Total weight is 13.6 kg, with a 1 kg payload capacity. The platform has been designed to be modular, the aim being that each part and the payload can be quickly swapped in and out as the mission requires. End-users are encouraged though to specify differing wingspans and measurements to fit their facilities and needs. This modularity is also intended to enable easier transportability by crate, with the UAV’s nine constituent parts – main wing, fuselage, the two vertical tails, the two outboard wings, the two winglets and the tail motor – being designed to click together during re-assembly without the need for tools. Also, the body hull is rated to IP65 to seal against dust or water for example. “That’s similar to a garden hose spraying or a medium rain, or splash-landing onto the ocean for a couple of hours and sitting there while you send a boat or helicopter to pick it up,” Streett explains. While this level of sealing was sought in order to withstand a water landing, it does not mean that is intended to be the craft’s natural landing mode. “We’d expect it to be an emergency condition,” says Streett. “By our current tests, we give it an hour-and-a-half for the operator to get out there by boat and recover it without it sinking or taking damage.” VTOL and flight The aircraft launches using all four motors, and transitions into outbound flight by slowly lowering its nose- mounted rotor, such that the rear- centre motor pushes the vehicle into its horizontal flight mode. Once that has Swift 020 UAV | Digest Unmanned Systems Technology | October/November 2017 The 10 ft wings of the Swift 020 feature four ailerons across their length