LAS VEGAS, 7 Aug. 2012. MLB Company is demonstrating its V-Bat vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which U.S. Air Force officials have selected for a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award, at AUVSI Unmanned Systems North America 2012.
The MLB V-Bat VTOL UAV offers an eight-foot wingspan, 10-hour endurance, 55-pound gross take-off weight, and 70 mile-per-hour (mph) cruise speed. The V-Bat combines VTOL operational convenience with the safety of a shrouded fan and fixed wing duration in a small UAV system; it is designed to revolutionize the availability and utility of local situational awareness for UAV operations from confined areas.
Under a DARPA contract, MLB demonstrated in 2011 the precise emplacement of small payloads from the V-Bat operating in hover mode under a vision-based control system.
Under the Phase II SBIR award, MLB will build vehicles and conduct a comprehensive flight test program for the V-Bat through all phases of flight, culminating in autonomous operational demonstrations.
Brigham Young University staffers will develop control algorithms and support flight tests. AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems engineers will focus on preparing the system design for low-rate initial production and refine requirements through customer engagement.
There is strong mission pull for Tier II sized long endurance VTOL vehicles, says a representative; in fact, the V-Bat design was originally solicited by a commercial customer for aerial mapping. MLB Company has been approached by potential customers in several government agencies and by commercial groups seeking an anti-piracy solution.