The US Army Research Laboratory (ARL), along with industry partners, has demonstrated the flying capabilities of a rectangular-shaped quadcopter at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
Also known as the hoverbike, the joint tactical aerial resupply vehicle (JTARV) is expected to help US soldiers order and receive supplies on the battlefield.
According to researchers, future JTARVs will be capable of flying at a range of heights at speeds of more than 60mph.
ARL Protection Division associate chief Tim Vong said: “Anywhere on the battlefield, soldiers can potentially get resupplied in less than 30 minutes.
“Amazon on the battlefield. We want to have options like that.”
The current hoverbike prototype is electric, but researchers are currently experimenting with a hybrid propulsion system that would significantly increase the system's range.
The US laboratory is also exploring options to enhance the JTARV’s payload capacity to 800lb, as well as extend its range up to 125 miles.
Vong added: “We're also looking to integrate advanced intelligent navigation and mission planning. We're looking to end up with a modular, stable platform that can be used for even more dynamic and challenging missions.”
Besides government, academic partners and other industry, the project is also teaming with the US Office of Naval Research.
While exploring the JTARV concept commenced in the summer of 2014, the ARL researchers expect to demonstrate complete autonomy in the near future.
Image: US ARL researchers and industry partners fly a prototype rectangular-shaped quadcopter. Photo: courtesy of Jhi Scott, ARL.