Flexrotor Long Range VTOL UAV

Flexrotor Tabletop sized Robotic Long Range Aircraft Rear Quarter

Flexrotor tabletop-sized long-range robotic aircraft with VTOL

Flexrotor is a tabletop-sized robotic aircraft which offers an unprecedented combination of long range and endurance together with vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL).  Exceptional performance is enabled by:

  • a “tailsitter” layout roughly comparable to that of experimental VTOL fighters of the 1950s, and likewise somewhat akin to the “helicopter airplane” proposed by Prince (1952);
  • a large, geared-down tractor rotor/propellor having low disc loading, offering reasonable propulsive efficiency over a flight envelope stretching from hover to long-range cruise to high-speed dash;
  • thrust-borne launch, with fuselage and rotor axis vertical;
  • wing-borne cruise, with fuselage and rotor axis horizontal;
  • standard aerodynamic surfaces for control in wing-borne flight, and a combination of rotor cyclic and stowable wing-tip thrusters for control in thrust-borne flight.

VTOL is exploited to allow the aircraft to operate autonomously from sites having restricted access, including small boats in rough conditions.  Automation encompasses the full ground-handling cycle, from retrieval through to parking, fueling, and launch, which will be possible from an unattended and portable base station.  The system is designed for low logistics costs, high flight-hours per man-hour, and wide-ranging operations over oceans and remote areas.  Prospective applications include weather and environmental monitoring, geological survey, and land- and ship-based imaging reconnaissance (McGeer 2007).  The accompanying table lists salient features of the aircraft.

Aerovel Flexrotor Videos:

Aerovel Flexrotor characteristics (preliminary)
Dimensions Performance with 0.9 kg payload
span 3.00 m max level speed 145 km/h 79 kt
area 0.70 sq m cruise speed 80 km/h 44 kt
overall length 1.60 m max vertical climb @ max weight, SL 1.0 m/s 200 ft/min
rotor diameter 1.85 m max climb @ max weight, SL 3.8 m/s 750 ft/min
fuselage diameter 0.18 m endurance, no reserves more than 40 hr
max VTO weight 19.2 kg still-air range @ max endurance more than 3000 km/2000 nm

Flexrotor Long Range VTOL