BAE unveils futuristic unmanned aircraft concept

Engineers from BAE Systems together with students from Cranfield University, have revealed a new technology concept (Adaptable UAVs) allowing to better adapt to evolving future battlefield situations.

Within the next few decades, armed forces could be using unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs) with adaptable aircraft technologies - image courtesy of BAE
Within the next few decades, armed forces could be using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with adaptable aircraft technologies – image courtesy of BAE Systems.

The new unmanned aircraft concept can alternate between two different flight modes in the same mission

The Adaptable UAVs are a hybrid between fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, and would use adaptive flight control and advanced navigation and guidance software.

This technology would allow the aircraft to benefit from the greater speed and range afforded to fixed-wing aircraft, before alternating to rotary-wing mode to hover and achieve vertical take-off and landing.

In the rotary wing mode of flight, the Adaptable UAVs can be easily and safely launched and recovered using a range of vehicles in dangerous environments that might be cluttered by personnel, other aircraft or vehicles.

The pole constrains the lateral or sideways movement of the UAV when being launched or recovered so strong winds cannot dislodge them and avoids any damage to personnel nearby.

This is particularly important when recovering a UAV to the aft of a ship or a land vehicle.

The pole’s gyro-stabilised element also ensures that it remains upright independently of the host vehicle’s orientation, which may be rolling if on a ship, or in the case of a land vehicle driving up or down a slope at the time of the launch or recovery.

Professor Nick Colosimo BAE Systems’ Futurist and Technologist said: “The battlefield of the future will require novel solutions to meet emerging threats and to keep human operators safe wherever they may be’.”

“The Adaptable UAVs concept and related technologies are one of a number of concepts being explored through close collaboration between industry and students in academia.”

Cranfield University is one of BAE Systems Strategic University Partners. Research staff and students have explored a range of UAV technologies including research into adaptive flight control and advanced navigation and guidance software.

BAE Systems has developed some of the world’s most innovative technologies and invests in research and development to generate future products and capabilities. The Company has a portfolio of patents and patent applications covering approximately 2000 inventions internationally.