Northrop Grumman and Yamaha Motor Corp., are working jointly to develop and market a small, unmanned and autonomous helicopter based on Yamaha’s existing product RMAX. In addition to RMAX’s use in agriculture, the new helicopter to be called ‘Rotary Bat’ (R-Bat) merges the RMAX’s proven airframe produced by Yamaha, with the autonomous control and intelligence-gathering technologies provided by Northrop Grumman, enabling operations in populated and urban environments, for applications such as search and rescue, power line inspection and forest fire observation.. Yamaha’s RMAX is already used extensively in agricultural support activities outside of the U.S. In Japan, the RMAX provides “agricultural support services” to more than 2.4 million acres of farmland annually.
The introduction of R-BAT in the USA has not been announced as it may depend on the the certification of such platform for commercial use. Yamaha was trying to market the RMAX in the USA but stumbled on lack of certification of unmanned aerial systems for commercial operations in North America.
“Yamaha Motor has produced remotely-piloted unmanned helicopters for over 25 years,” said Toshizumi Kato, president, Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A. “Northrop Grumman’s merging of our efficient and affordable aircraft with their expertise in autonomous control systems will deliver a unique capability to their Bat UAS portfolio.”