Sydney, Nov 20 (ANI): Australian researchers at the University of Sydney claim to have successfully tested a prototype of a vehicle, which combines the best of a helicopter and a fixed wing aircraft.
The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) takes off vertically like a chopper and then flips over to fly forward like a conventional plane.
The vehicle stands 1.5 metres high and has a wingspan of 2.4 metres.
Dr Hugh Stone of the University of Sydney, whose team has been carrying out test flights, says the T-Wing could provide cheaper and more efficient surveillance and reconnaissance, in future.
"It can take off and land like a helicopter. "It doesn't need a runway," ABC quoted Dr. Stone, an aeronautical engineer, who began the research as a PhD project, as saying.
He says while helicopters can take off and land vertically and can hover over a place, they are not as efficient at forward flight as conventional aircraft, and don't tend to fly as fast, or as far, either.
ďThis is why 'convertiplanes' were developed, aerial vehicles that convert from helicopter to plane mode. Other UAV convertiplanes use helicopter type propeller blades and more complex and expensive technology to control the movement of the vehicle. But the T-Wing uses fixed propellers, like a standard aircraft,Ē says Dr Stone.
ďMoving flaps that sit in the airstream behind the propellers are responsible for changing the direction of the aircraft and allow it to hover. These flaps are controlled by an onboard Computers Functioning that detects and changes the plane's location and orientation. We can basically tell it a set of points in space and we upload those to the vehicle and then it will fly through those points. It doesn't need any intervention from us," he adds.
However, like other similar vehicles the T-Wing is quite unstable and the flaps have to move 50 times a second to keep the vehicle hovering.
He says though it is not possible to fly the aircraft by radio control from the ground, it is possible to communicate with the onboard computer system in an emergency.
"We can intervene if something starts to go wrong," says Dr. Stone.
So far, the team has successfully tested a prototype that is 1.5 metres high and has a 2.4-metre wingspan and weighs 30 kilograms, and plans to do further testing in December.
The team is working with the Australian technology company Sonacom to develop a commercial version of the aircraft for surveillance applications. (ANI)