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'Most Innovative Defense Technology' 2008 Award Nominee


AeroVironment Inc.

DARPA led Nano Air Vehicle (NAV) Program entered the second phase this year, with AeroVironment being awarded conceptual development contract for a flight demonstrator. The Nano Air Vehicle (NAV) aims at an extremely small (less than 7.5 cm wing span), ultra-lightweight (less than 10 grams) air vehicle system, designed for indoor and outdoor urban military missions. The preliminary phase examined several 'bio-inspired' models, that included lift generation via rotating and flapping wings, advanced stability and control using video images, and analytical tools for developing low Reynolds number ( a nondimensional parameter defined by the ratio of dynamic pressure) aircraft. The AeroVironment concept selected for the follow-on phase II utilizes flapping wing concept. A flyaway model could be conceived by 2010. (more...)

"The NAV program will push the limits of aerodynamic and power conversion efficiency, endurance and maneuverability for very small air vehicle systems," explained Dr. Todd Hylton, DARPA program manager. "We are interested in a system that has 20 minutes of flight time, can withstand 2.5 meters per second wind gusts, can operate inside buildings and have up to a kilometer command and control range." In addition, the vehicle would be able to hover and deliver a two-gram payload inside a building.

"AeroVironment's Raven and Wasp III unmanned aerial systems also began as early development programs similar to the NAV program, and now help protect the lives and enhance the operational effectiveness of warfighters and first responders." said John Grabowsky, AV executive vice president and general manager of unmanned aircraft systems. "The NAV program represents the early development of a revolutionary new class of UAS that could eventually provide valuable new capabilities to our customers."

Reasons for recommendation:

DARPA's Nano Air Vehicle program is setting today the future frontiers of unmanned systems technologies. Weight, space and power limitations of this system are challenging every aspect of the system's design. When matured, NAV will break current technological barriers, introducing sweeping changes and improvement that could be implemented through all autonomous systems multiplying performance, autonomy and sophistication.

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