There's usually something wacky going on in the world of whirlycraft, and if not there's bound to be some kind of craziness brewing in military droids. This week we have both, with a proposal for a robot mono tiltrotor. The idea is for a craft somewhat like the well-known, controversial Osprey, now in operational service after …
Paramotor vs. tilt-rotor mono-thingy
The para-motor is cheap, but it can't land vertically or take off again under it's own steam. It's slow, not overly quiet, flies low, and in flight the parachute must make a tempting target for AK47-ers on the ground.
On the other hand you can throw it out of a plane, and it's cheap enough it doesn't really matter if it doesn't come back.
I think they do the same kind of thing in different ways. There are jobs where one is suited over the other, I don't think it's a 'one or the other' situation.
OK I admit its pretty cool.
And it does look like quite a lot of detail design has taken place (They made the video after they got the bits designed, not before). It neatly sidesteps a lot of the issues of the V2H and H2V transitions. Its payload is 5x that of the SnowGoose. IIRC 3000lb is a load for a HU1. And its design (and would presumably be built) in the good ol' US of A.
There are a lot of complex moving surfaces and joints. They have to work in sequence. Failure of the undercarriage extend and retrack process would probably stuff you quid badly.
The used pallet pickup sequence and the hillside drop both look very tricky to program a control system for without some sensors to guide it. Tipping a payload out of the side, and adjusting to compensate for the asymetric loads afterward looks kind of challenging as well. Incidently is the payload carrier already available, or is that another part of the design?
And the ex US Marines I've met would find evac in those shipping containers a fairly tight squeeze. I know its not *meant* to carry people but the USMC seems to be able to improvise quite well, and there's always V2.0 to think about.
And of course how much does this cost compared with a SnowGoose?
I wish them good luck and hope they survive the exciting world of defense procurement practice.
In addition to dispensing with the human crew...
Something the Osprey had a distressing tendency to do...
(once within a few miles of my house)
(to be fair, a regular helicopter did the same thing even closer back in the late '60s)
Very well written
The above comments are insightful and appreciated. John, I welcome your even handed approach. More on the Cargo Pod is available in the following conference paper, http://www.baldwintechnology.com/MTR_AHS_VLA_06.pdf . Alan, yes the Marines have two different sets of requirements that while they may overlap in payload, serve very different needs due to range, speed, timeliness, and throughput.
(Kudos to The Register, nicely done story. And I like your readership, particularly if the above comments are indicative of your community. (BTW, our IT is primarily Linux and OSS based.))
Thank you. I shall look it up. It looks like something that could (or does) have other applications.
Actually the aerospace business has a bit of a history of projects where the radical new bits work without a hitch. Their downfall is the seemingly routine parts. I'll hope that won't happen here.
The Osprey *looks* like the simplest, most straighforward approach to solving this problem. It's looong development history suggests the simple, obvious way may hide some tricky, well hidden and quite dangerous failure modes.
In hindsight making both rotors contra-rotating and taking the weight hit on the necessary gearing might have saved a lot of trouble. IANME
Now as long as an actual deployment runs like the video there should be quite a market for it.