Ascent AeroSystems’ Spirit fits into a backpack

Departments - Up and Soaring

UAVT introduces Monarch RP propulsion systems; GE Aviation, Auterion, team on UAS hardware, software

Tewksbury, Massachusetts-based Ascent AeroSystems has revealed its Spirit dual- rotor, coaxial unmanned aerial system (UAS) for defense, intelligence, and public safety applications.

With a cylindrical core not much bigger than a coffee can, the UAS weighs 3 lb and fits in a backpack. According to Ascent AeroSystems’ Chief Engineer Nate Meringer, with two batteries and a 2 lb payload, it can fly for more than 50 minutes.

Spirit will be available in several configurations, including ready-to-fly versions with a gimbal, thermal camera, and a choice of ground control station. Shipments will begin late this summer, says company Co-founder and COO Jon Meringer.

Huntsville, Alabama-based defense contractor Dynetics is Spirit’s launch customer.

Steve Norris, Dynetics’ unmanned systems department manager, explains, “Spirit's modular configuration improves our ability to incorporate new technologies, so we can rapidly develop new payloads and demonstrate new capabilities to our customers in the defense and intelligence communities.”

UAVT introduces Monarch RP propulsion systems

UAV Turbines Inc. (UAVT)’s Monarch RP family of microturbine engines for Group 3 and 4 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can operate on heavy fuels, such as jet fuel, instead of avgas, and can generate up to 3x more on-board electrical power than conventional engines.

Operation time between overhauls is more than 2,000 hours longer than available in current Class 3 engines. Its variable-pitch propeller will enable commercial and military UAVs to climb faster and reach greater speeds.

UAVT in 2018 entered a Technical Investment Agreement with the U.S. military to develop a more efficient propulsion system and is now working with a commercial airframe partner to conduct ground testing. 

GE Aviation, Auterion, team on UAS hardware, software

GE Aviation and Auterion are combining autopilot and application computing hardware with open-platform software for commercial unmanned aircraft system (UAS) manufacturers and operators.

GE Aviation is providing the avionics hardware, application computing, flight management, and integration into airframes. Auterion is providing the Enterprise PX4 operating system that runs on the vehicle, in the cloud, and the ground station, as well as camera integrations, data networking, precision navigation, and traffic management compliance.

The platform architecture supports developers through global open software standards while maintaining an independent and authoritative safety controller. Together, they offer flexibility and design assurance to enable commercial UAS operations beyond visual line of sight and within complex airspace.

Auterion Co-Founder Kevin Sartori says, “The combined solution will significantly reduce barriers commercial cargo drones face flying in manned airspace or inspection drones flying in urban areas.”