Describing it as a “21st-century helicopter,” Olaeris has unveiled AEVA, a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) offering a flight time of four to five hours.
Targeted for the civilian helicopter market, the UAS is designed to fly beyond the visual line of sight, including for applications such as oil and gas monitoring, electric utility inspections, and emergency response.
“With the pilot safely on the ground as a redundant safety backup, the aircraft uses onboard radar, LiDAR, [automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast] and machine vision to ‘feel’ its way through the airspace, avoiding flight path obstacles automatically,” explains Scott Lucas, vice president of sales and business development. “This leaves the pilot free to operate onboard cameras and sensors without the burden of flying the aircraft.”
According to Olaeris, this latest version of AEVA is the result of a six-month design review with a multibillion-dollar aviation company that offered engineering modifications to help ensure the Federal Aviation Administration would find the aircraft safe and worthy of type-class certification – as a conventional helicopter would.
Olaeris says the UAS is offered in an all-electric version, capable of flying for one full hour while carrying up to 5 kg (11 lbs.) of payload, and a hybrid-electric version, capable of carrying the same payload for four to five hours.
AEVA uses shrouded, ducted fans rather than open rotors – allowing flight in close proximity to obstacles, the company adds.