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New class of UAVs look more like UFOs

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September 14, 2009

An AESIR UAV takes flight

An AESIR UAV takes flight

Image Gallery (4 images)

Most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) employ a fixed wing design like that of a traditional plane. But these designs offer limited maneuverability and payload capacity, require a runway to takeoff and land, and are unable to hover. Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) UAVs get around these problems, usually by employing rotors like a helicopter. Now UK-based company AESIR has developed a VTOL UAV that has no external rotating parts, instead relying on a phenomenon known as the Coanda effect to generate lift.

The Coanda effect is the tendency of a fluid jet to become ‘attached’ to a nearby curved body instead of following its original path. The effect can be seen by placing a can in front of a lit candle. If you blow directly at the can, the air will bend around it and extinguish the candle – that’s the Coanda effect. It was used in the design of the pedal powered submarine we looked at earlier this year and, because the fluid jet can be a liquid or a gas, AESIR have been able to utilize the effect in the UAV.

The Design

In the case of the AESIR UAV, air velocity is created in the center of the craft using a fan and then directing the air flow through an outlet so it follows over the curved surface. The amount of lift generated is dependent upon the velocity, mass and density of the air. To help reduce the weight of the craft and maximize durability the craft are made from carbon fiber.

Since the rotation of the fan causes the body of the UAV to rotate in the opposite direction, AESIR placed a series of vanes in the airflow around the outside of the body to neutralize this effect. Moveable flaps on sections of the lifting surface provide yaw control to allow the UAV to turn left or right. And flaps on the outside of the craft use the lift airflow to provide directional control, causing the craft to tilt and move in the direction of the tilt.

AESIR say their designs have inherent stability as a surveillance platform, thanks to a sustained hover capability, and can survive low speed impact with the ground, buildings and other fixed objects. They also have a large payload capacity when compared to similar sized fixed wing craft and have been designed to be flexible using “plug-and-play” payloads.

The Range

The AESIR family of craft range from a 300mm diameter craft called Vidar, through Odin which is a 1m diameter craft with a payload capability of 10kg, to Hoder which is a multi-engine craft with the capability to lift a payload of 1 tonne.

Vidar is a highly portable craft designed to provide surveillance and situational awareness inside buildings, and in close confined spaces. It has an electric engine powered by Lithium Polymer batteries to provide up to 15 minutes of flight time. It weighs 400g and is capable of carrying a 100g payload.

Odin is fitted with a Wankel Rotary internal combustion engine fueled by JP-8 jet fuel. It weighs 10kg and can carry a 10kg payload for up to an hour. Fitted with an autonomous flight control system and managed through a simple to operate ground control system, it can be adapted to a range of tasks including Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR), communications relay and electronic warfare, asset protection, IED detection and can be used as a weapon or loitering munition.

Hoder is a heavy lift craft that weighs 1.5 tonne and is capable of carrying a one tonne payload for up to eight hours. It is primarily intended for cargo transport and resupply vehicle for front line forces, but can be adapted to become a long endurance craft by reducing the payload and increasing the fuel. Hoder is in the early stages of development but AESIR expect that it will be multi-engined.

AESIR’s Marketing Director Mark Broughton told Gizmag that the company has initially targeted its range of VTOL UAVs at the defense market, but plans to explore civil and commercial markets in the coming weeks.

AESIR was exhibiting its wares at the Defence Systems and Equipment International Exhibition 2009 (DSEi) in London earlier this month. Given that the VTOL UAV’s have applications beyond the military, it may not be long before there's an explosion in UFO sightings that can be attributed to the AESIR craft.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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5 Comments

You say:

The effect can be seen by running a stream of water over the underside of a spoon. The water follows the curve instead of dropping straight down - that's the Coanda effect.

Wikipedia says:

A common misconception is that Coandă effect is demonstrated when a stream of tap water flows over the back of a spoon held lightly in the stream and the spoon is pulled into the stream. While the flow looks very similar to the air flow over the ping pong ball above (if one could see the air flow), the cause is not really the Coandă effect. Here, because it is a flow of water into air, there is no entrainment of the surrounding fluid (the air) into the jet (the stream of water). This particular demonstration is dominated by surface tension.

Please research before blindly posting.

Who is right?

Thanks for the heads up. Always happy to admit when a mistake is pointed out by our knowledgeable readers. The mistake has been rectified. Darren

Robert Springer
15th September, 2009 @ 04:12 am PDT

Some day in the not too distant future, people will be whipping around in the evolved versions of these things. The possibilities associated with this are unbelievable. Attach a video camera and film impossible images. Attach a hose, and let this thing hoist it into the air. Boom, flying firetruck. Couriers in cities. Weapons systems in war. Transportation for people. This is the beginning of something incredible.

chards
15th September, 2009 @ 06:44 pm PDT

This design revolves around a technology over 50 years of age now, and it is still inferior due to it's mechanically aspired geometry. See "Repulsine" for a much more efficient version of this device. The only downside is the internals are extremely difficult to manufacture due to their shapes.

Facebook User
16th September, 2009 @ 01:22 pm PDT

\"This design revolves around a technology over 50 years of age now, and it is still inferior due to it\'s mechanically aspired geometry. See \"Repulsine\" for a much more efficient version of this device. The only downside is the internals are extremely difficult to manufacture due to their shapes\"

Inferior to what? What role did you play in creating this device that you know the internal workings of it?

Watching the video, and considering that their is a version of this platform that can carry a ton and behave that way, is utterly astounding. The applications are mind boggling. Just that small version demonstrated in that YouTube piece can revolutionize the way we record video. Larger versions, that can exhibit that degree of control and stability, are something we will see in the not to distant future employed in all sorts of ways.

chards
16th September, 2009 @ 05:45 pm PDT

Jean-Louis Naudin did a bunch of experimenting with this in 2006 http://jlnlabs.online.fr/gfsuav/index.htm

Gregg Eshelman
31st July, 2014 @ 07:49 pm PDT
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