AirMule Completes First Phase of Flight Testing

Urban Aeronautics Ltd, has successfully completed the first phase of its flight testing of the AirMule Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Aerial System (UAS). The flight test phase has consisted of autonomous hovers, with the vehicle maintaining stabilized in height and attitude position, with on-board Fly-By-Wire system controlling the three rotational axes of the vehicle (Pitch, Roll and Yaw). The next series of tests will examine the vehicle's position keeping abilities, as the vehicle is expected to fly tetherless for the first time. (read more...)

Above: AirMule is seen during one of its hovering flights. Photo above: Urban Aeronautics.

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Uniquely designed for cargo and medical evacuation (MedEvac) combat missions, AirMule is designed to fly autonomously from point-to-point, carrying a useful payload of 500 pounds (227 kg). The vehicle is capable of flying for four hour with the cargo, at a speed up to 100 knots. Its unique propulsion enables safe flight in dense vegetation or urban area, over rough terrain and at high temperatures, all without human control.

The flight control system developed by Urban Aeronautics comprises a four channel redundant flight control system relying almost entirely on inertial measurements, augmented by GPS for translational position and velocity readings. In addition, two laser altimeters indicate the vehicle's height above the ground level.

Results from the tests have confirmed the company’s predictions regarding power required for hover. According to Rafi Yoeli, the company's founder and CEO, the significance of the data obtained in those test is that vehicle is ability to perform hover with very high precision even in gusty wind conditions (currently estimated and confirmed by the recent hover tests at 50 knots for the fully developed product). In the upcoming months the company plans to expand the flight envelope, and increase the hover height. According to Yoeli, in the current test the AirMule was hovering at a level of about two feet (60 cm), which brought the vehicle just outside of ground effect for this particular configuration, effectively assessing the vehicle’s available control power under actual conditions. The tests demonstrated that the AirMule’s vane control system which is used for roll and yaw control is already generating in excess of 2.0 Radians/sec^2 of roll acceleration. This figure is expected to double in the future, with additional improvements that are presently being implemented.

 

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