Engineers, students in U.K. team to design adaptable UAVs

CRANFORD, Bedfordshire, England. Students from Cranfield University (Cranfield, U.K.) have teamed with engineers from BAE Systems to design a new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology that can alternate between fixed-wing and rotary-wing flight modes during the same mission.

The hybrid fixed-wing/rotary-wing craft -- dubbed "adaptable UAVs" --  would use adaptive flight control and advanced navigation and guidance software, which 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 takeoff and landing.

The engineering team believes that this novel technology will allow UAVs to better adapt to evolving future battlefield situations and enable several craft to work together in a swarm, tackle sophisticated air defenses, and operate in complex or cluttered urban environments.

Professor Nick Colosimo, ’ Futurist and Technologist, said of the collaborative project: “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 's concept and related technologies are one of a number of concepts being explored through close collaboration between industry and students in academia.”

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