A proof-of-concept unmanned aerial vehicle that combines fixed-wing and helicopter capabilities is being tested by the Airbus Group.
The electric-powered Quadcruiser is a joint effort of Airbus Group Innovations and Airbus Defense, with the participation of Steinbeis Flugzeug-und Leichtbau GmbH.
Airbus Group it has four vertically-oriented electric lift motors for vertical takeoff and landing and hover capabilities. Its rear pusher propeller accelerates the UAV’s to a point where the wings have sufficient lift. Propellers are then readjusted for fixed-wing flight.
In testing last week the demonstrator aircraft successfully transitioned from helicopter mode to fixed-wing mode, the company said.
“These flight tests validated the safe operation of the flight control system during transition phase, as expected,” said Dr. Juergen Steinwandel, an executive expert with Airbus Group Innovations.
The Quadcruiser demonstrator, which has flown for 50 minutes, is a baseline for future developments, including increases in size, complexity, level of autonomy and cost.
“Larger Quadcruiser versions could become hybrid aircraft, with an internal combustion engine incorporated to recharge the electric batteries for longer-duration flights,” the company said.