WASHINGTON(Aug. 17, 2011)– Rockwell Collins today announced its Athena®Micro INS inertial navigation system and global positioning system (INS/GPS) guided the first flight of Aerovel’s Flexrotor vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).
During the first flight, the Flexrotor successfully demonstrated a transition from hover to wing-borne cruise. The Flexrotor design provides the convenience of VTOL with a range of more than 3,000 km and endurance exceeding a day and a half.
The Athena Micro INS sensor suite solution features the best sensor fusion available in its class. It is the size of a cell phone, weighs only four ounces (115 g), and offers plug and play integration into an aircraft, reducing the overall time to market for aircraft manufacturers. Based on low cost, high performance Micro-Electromechanical Systems (MEMS) sensors with high MTBF (Mean-Time-Between-Failure), the Micro INS performs with the highest level of precision and reliability at an affordable price. The robust, affordable design also enables vehicle manufacturers to use multiple Micro INS systems for extra redundancy and reliability to support operations in civil airspace.
“The overall objective of the Flexrotor design is to make operating costs low enough for civil applications such as offshore weather reconnaissance and geological survey. We can achieve this through small size, long range, small footprint, flexibility, and autonomy throughout the operations cycle,” said Tad McGeer, president of Aerovel. “Rockwell Collins’ high-performance, lightweight Micro INS provided the all-attitude state estimate which was vital for aircraft control throughout the flight envelope.”
“Our smallest Athena solution, the Micro INS, offers customers a miniaturized, all-in-one system with computer, sensors and optional mission management and flight control software,” commented Dr. David Vos, Rockwell Collins senior director Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Control Technologies. “This solution, proven with over 1 million flight hours, performs in the most complex flight scenarios, such as with Flexrotor’s vertical takeoff and landing and transition back and forth to cruising flight.”