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Video showing AT Black Knight Transformer's first flight released

By

May 6, 2014

Snapshot from aerial footage of the aircraft in hover filmed by a quadcopter drone

Snapshot from aerial footage of the aircraft in hover filmed by a quadcopter drone

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Advanced Tactics Inc. has now received permission from the US government to release video footage showing the first test flight of its Black Knight Transformer prototype demonstrator.

In the Black Knight Transformer, Advanced Tactics Inc. (AT) has given an off-road vehicle helicopter capabilities, allowing it to take off and land just about anywhere. The claimed features and advantages of the Transformer technology are outlined in the image below.

The features and advantages of the AT Transformer technology

In the first driving and flying test at an undisclosed private location in Southern California, the Transformer made multiple short hover flights at an altitude that was limited to a fraction of what it's capable of for safety reasons. The autopilot handled the Transformer's stability and attitude, with power controlled by a (human) remote backup pilot.

The company is currently developing an autonomous modular version of the vehicle, which will be capable of delivering detachable cargo pods of up to 3,500 lb (1,600 kg) payloads. It's being designed to reach speeds of up to 200 knots TAS and able to hover for more than 19 hours carrying a 150 lb (70 kg) Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance pod. The ground drivetrain could also be swapped out for an amphibious boat hull.

AT reports that the Transformer "was stable, controllable, and performed as expected." But you can see that for yourselves in the video below. The company is now looking for investors in the program, as well as government customers in the US and beyond.

Source: Advanced Tactics, Inc.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
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9 Comments

I still fail to see the advantage this has over a regular helicopter.

Slowburn
6th May, 2014 @ 07:43 pm PDT

Yet another "solution" looking for a problem nobody has....

Grunt
7th May, 2014 @ 03:32 am PDT

Great awesome solution!

Except, I hope that it can get more than a few feet off the ground!

Wayne Miller
7th May, 2014 @ 09:08 am PDT

I can see why the gov't kept this secret; it's the stupidest thing yet to spend our money on. Come on, we can't afford to rebuild our crumbing infrastructure or educate our children but we can build a drivable, flying box?

ridgetopboy
7th May, 2014 @ 09:14 am PDT

I'm pretty sure that multicopters are the future purely from economies of scale. They use lots of cheap simple serviceable rotors, so the cost per rotor will go down, to the point that the total cost will be cheaper than a conventional single-rotor copter. The fact that it's stable and fault tolerant are just more advantages. This could serve plenty of uses in "theater". If equipment is standardized such as "sea cans" are, then these copters could be roboticized to deliver whatever, wherever, whenever. They could fuel themselves up when needed, keep track of their own service schedule, and perhaps even drop into automated servicing garages for rotor swap-outs as necessary. Even better if they could be ganged to lift heavier loads. I believe there's a lot of potential utility in this concept!

Grunchy
7th May, 2014 @ 03:50 pm PDT

It seems, (unlike of a regular helicopter) there is the opportunity to install a parachute which will be able to land the "knight" completely, if it'll be necessary. In this case, there will be the possibility to organize very surprising visits of black knight, especially at night.

Rafael Kireyev
8th May, 2014 @ 12:02 am PDT

The ratio of engine to payload is probably pretty large. A fact in support of that is that the engines were not rotated out on the camera. Was probably done by hand, or also, could have been done after the motor to drive the wheels were removed (why wasn't it moving?) or was even a different machine. Because it is "national security" we must assume it is fraud on some level. If it worked, you could not shut them up, and it would have been on "Good morning America." Like slowburn, said, How is this better than a helicopter? And most of the comments referenced, waste. It would be nice if we got experts to comment. I am an aerospace engineer with design experience. Big engines and big rotors are much more efficient. If you can take off straight up and down, why do you need wheels? But choppers do have wheels because if they can use a road, rolling takeoffs are faster and more efficient because your rotor is moving fresh air, not air that is already rotating and moving down. The problem in large part is the people in the military buying these are not engineers, but English or Dance majors. But the manufacturers give campaign contributions to the congressmen on the committees, so it doesnt really matter.

ThomasThomas
11th May, 2014 @ 02:01 pm PDT

Oh wow, look, someone made the ugliest, flying piece of crap I've ever seen and thinks that it's impressive.

Marc Stinebaugh
20th May, 2014 @ 06:24 pm PDT

I don't understand the "Wow Factor" they're trying to sell. My reason; they are just copying what Chinese toy designers have done for 20yrs.

Multi-rotor flying thingys. Not much revolutionary in that office. Tell them to watch some decent new sci-fi movies the designers have done much better work as fakes. Ridiculous world we live in. We should've been flying elec multi-motor/rotor machines since Tesla said about it in 1900s.

PaulYak
4th June, 2014 @ 12:40 pm PDT
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