The Vahana all-electric, self-piloted, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft from Airbus’ Silicon Valley company, A-cubed (A3), made its first full-scale flight test – lasting 53 seconds and reaching a height of 5m (16ft). Accomplished Jan. 31, 2018, at the unmanned aerial system (UAS) range in Pendleton, Oregon, the flight was fully self-piloted, and the vehicle completed a second flight the following day.

Project Executive Zach Lovering says, “In just under two years, Vahana took a concept sketch on a napkin and built a full-scale, self-piloted aircraft.”

A3 hopes to leverage technologies in electric propulsion, energy storage, and machine vision to create a solution combining personal flight with urban mobility.

“Vahana's first flight… proves that we can deliver meaningful innovation with aggressive project timetables, to provide a real competitive advantage for Airbus,” adds Rodin Lyasoff, A³ CEO and former Vahana project executive.

The team will perform additional tests, including transitions and forward flight.

www.airbus-sv.com; www.vahana.aero

Intel light show breaks drone world records at Olympic Winter Games

For the 2018 Olympic Winter Games opening ceremony in PyeongChang, South Korea, 1,218 Intel Shooting Star drones lit up the sky, setting a new Guinness World Records title for the most drones flown simultaneously. The world record flight, prerecorded for the event, surpassed Intel’s previous record of 500 drones flown simultaneously in Germany in 2016. Intel designed and developed custom animations for the opening ceremony and nightly performances that featured animations of winter sports, Olympic-related logos, and the iconic Olympic rings.

The Intel Shooting Star unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – designed for entertainment purposes – weigh 330g, are equipped with LED lights that can create 4 billion color combinations, and can be programmed for animation. The fleet of drones is controlled by one pilot.

During the games’ closing ceremony, 300 Intel Shooting Star drones depicted the Olympic mascot – Soohorang, the white tiger – who comes running in above the stadium, cheering on the athletes, and creating a heart outline in the sky.

www.intel.com; www.olympic.org

GA-ASI partners for MQ-25

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) is collaborating with several American aerospace partners in its proposed MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial system (UAS) tanker aircraft for the U.S. Navy. GA-ASI’s purpose-built, V-tail UAS is designed for aerial refueling and meets Navy requirements, including carrier suitability. Partners include:

  • Boeing Autonomous Systems – aviation, autonomous experience
  • Pratt & Whitney – high-bypass PW815 commercial engines
  • UTC Aerospace Systems – design, build landing gear
  • L3 Technologies – design, build communications systems
  • BAE Systems – mission planning, cybersecurity software
  • Rockwell Collins – advanced navigation, networked communications, simulation technologies
  • GKN Aerospace/Fokker – carrier arresting hook
  • General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems – carrier integration, risk reduction
  • General Atomics Systems Integration – landing gear integration

Boeing is also pursuing its individual MQ-25 proposal, and Lockheed Martin is also submitting an entry in the competition. www.ga-asi.com