Two-wing, Flapping Aircraft Hovers and Flies in Any Direction
Total Weight of Two-thirds of an Ounce Includes Batteries and Video
Inc. (AV)(NASDAQ: AVAV) today announced it has accomplished a
technical milestone never before achieved -- controlled precision
hovering and fast-forward flight of a two-wing, flapping wing aircraft
that carries its own energy source, and uses only the flapping wings for
propulsion and control.
AeroVironment Develops World's First Fully Operational Life-Size Hummingbird-Like Unmanned Aircraft for DARPA (Photo: Business Wire)
The milestone was part of the Phase II contract awarded by the Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to AV to design and build a
flying prototype "hummingbird-like" aircraft for the Nano
Air Vehicle (NAV) program.
"The success of the NAV program paves the way for a new generation of
aircraft with the agility and appearance of small birds," said DARPA NAV
program manager, Dr. Todd Hylton.
The final concept demonstrator is called the 'Nano Hummingbird' and is
capable of climbing and descending vertically, flying sideways left and
right, flying forward and backward, as well as rotating clockwise and
counter-clockwise, under remote control and carrying a video camera
payload. During the demonstration the Nano Hummingbird flew in and out
of a building through a normal-size doorway.
"The historic achievement made by the Nano Hummingbird is an example of
the leading-edge innovations introduced and deployed almost routinely by
the AeroVironment UAS team," said Tom Herring, AV senior vice president
and general manager of Unmanned Aircraft Systems. "From the
battle-proven Raven, Wasp and Puma small UAS to the tiny Nano
Hummingbird to Global Observer, the largest, highest and longest flying
UAS, AeroVironment continues to define the future of unmanned aircraft
systems. Our mission in doing so is to provide our customers with
advanced tools that help them succeed."
The hand-made prototype aircraft has a wingspan of 16 centimeters (6.5
inches) tip-to-tip and has a total flying weight of 19 grams (2/3
ounce), which is less than the weight of a common AA battery. This
includes all the systems required for flight; batteries, motors,
communications systems and video camera. The aircraft can be fitted with
a removable body fairing, which is shaped to have the appearance of a
real hummingbird. The aircraft is larger and heavier than an average
hummingbird, but is smaller and lighter than the largest hummingbird
currently found in nature.
"The success of the Nano Hummingbird was highly dependent on the intense
combination of creative, scientific, and artistic problem-solving skills
from the many AV team members, aided by a philosophy of continuous
learning, which we feel was only possible due to the unique R&D
environment here at AV," said Matt Keennon, AV's project manager and
principal investigator on the NAV project.
The technical goals for the Phase II effort were set out by DARPA as
flight test milestones for the aircraft to achieve by the end of the
contract effort. The Nano Hummingbird met all, and exceeded many, of the
Demonstrate precision hover flight within a virtual two-meter diameter
sphere for one minute.
Demonstrate hover stability in a wind gust flight which required the
aircraft to hover and tolerate a two-meter per second (five miles per
hour) wind gust from the side, without drifting downwind more than one
Demonstrate a continuous hover endurance of eight minutes with no
external power source.
Fly and demonstrate controlled, transition flight from hover to 11
miles per hour fast forward flight and back to hover flight.
Demonstrate flying from outdoors to indoors, and back outdoors through
a normal-size doorway.
Demonstrate flying indoors 'heads-down' where the pilot operates the
aircraft only looking at the live video image stream from the
aircraft, without looking at or hearing the aircraft directly.
Fly the aircraft in hover and fast forward flight with bird-shaped
body and bird-shaped wings.
About AeroVironment, Inc. (AV)
AV is a technology solutions provider that designs, develops, produces
and supports an advanced portfolio of Unmanned
Aircraft Systems (UAS) and electric transportation solutions.
Agencies of the U.S. Department of Defense and allied military services
use the company's battery-powered, hand-launched
unmanned aircraft systems extensively to provide situational
awareness to tactical operating units through real-time, airborne
reconnaissance, surveillance and communication. Switchblade is a small
UAS designed to provide a rapid, lethal, pinpoint precision strike
capability with minimal collateral damage. AV's electric transportation
solutions include a comprehensive suite of electric
vehicle (EV) charging systems and installation services for
consumers, automakers, utilities and government agencies, power
cycling and test systems for EV developers and industrial
electric vehicle charging systems for commercial fleets. More
information about AV is available at www.avinc.com.
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statements" as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation
Reform Act of 1995. These statements are made on the basis of current
expectations, forecasts and assumptions that involve risks and
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cause our business, strategy or actual results to differ materially from
those expressed or implied. Factors that could cause actual results to
differ materially from the forward-looking statements include, but are
not limited to, our ability to perform under existing contracts and
obtain additional contracts; changes in the regulatory environment; the
activities of competitors; failure of the markets in which we operate to
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products or integrate new technology with current products; and general
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uncertainties, see the reports we file with the Securities and Exchange
Commission. We do not intend, and undertake no obligation, to update any
forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information,
future events or otherwise.
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Source: AeroVironment, Inc.
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