Group’s E-Roadmap includes the development of hybrid helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). In this respect, Airbus Defence and Space has developed a scalable UAV prototype with Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) dubbed Quadcruiser, which combines hover capabilities with the cruising speed of an aircraft.
This innovative fixed-wing all-electric aircraft is currently in its flight testing phase, validating its stability and controllability. The Quadcruiser’s VTOL and hover flight is achieved with the four vertically-oriented electric lift motors, enabling it to perform like the quadcopter-type remotely-controlled vehicles.
During transition to fixed-wing aircraft mode, Quadcruiser’s rear pusher propeller accelerates the aircraft until its wings provide sufficient lift. The lift motors are then stopped, and their propellers adjusted to a low-drag position. Before landing, Quadcruiser transitions back to the quadcopter mode using its four lift motors.
Electric propelled Unmanned Aerial Systems offer major advantages. E-aircraft emit very low infrared radiation and noise levels, which make it more difficult to detect them
A baseline for incremental innovations
Targeting long-range missions, potential users of the Quadcruiser include border control agents, police and fire departments. But the demonstrator vehicle is being conceived to become a baseline for incremental developments that would see increases in size, complexity, level of autonomy and cost.
Larger Quadcruiser versions could become hybrid aircraft, with an internal combustion engine incorporated to recharge the electric batteries for longer-duration flights.