The VSR700 took its maiden flight on November 8 in southern France

The VTOL UAV made by Airbus made its maiden flight, performing several take-offs and landings with the longest flight lasting at around 10 minutes. See Airbus’ announcement below:

While not a direct development for the urban aerial mobility industry, Airbus Helicopters drone, the VSR700, an unmanned derivative of the Gimbal Helicopters Cabri G2 platform, showed off its capabilities as it was tethered with 30-metre cables to fully secure the flight test zone. The next steps of the test campaign will allow to move to autonomous free flight, then gradually open the drone flight envelope, according to Airbus Helicopters. At sea testing is expected to take place in 2021 and will involve a French Navy vessel and a VSR700 operational demonstrator. 

The VSR700 is capable of a maximum take-off weight between 500 and 1000 kg. Additionally, while Airbus has not released official specifications, the drone is expected to automatically land and take-off, fly for ten hours at 100 Nm and carry 100 kilos of payload, i.e. radar and optronics, as explained by the French Navy, who are expected to take on the drone as they search for a fit to their SDAM program ( Système de Drone Aérien pour la Marine) which calls for a medium size VTOL UAV to be deployed from surface combatants; many capabilities which are similar to the ones required by the UAM industry, in terms of payload and total flight capabilites.

According to Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters, “This first flight of the VSR700 prototype is a major milestone for the programme as we make progress on the operational demonstrator for the French Navy that will perform trials in 2021 in partnership with Naval Group.”

The VSR700 prototype which has just performed its maiden flight is a step change from the optionally piloted demonstrator that first flew in 2017. For the first time, the VSR700 was fitted with specific avionics and flight controls, a payload bay, and a more aerodynamic profile to improve flight performance.   

Why it’s important: The VSR700 or any of its derivatives will likely not see any part of the UAM industry, yet it is important to note the significance of the development of aircraft that are capable of taking unmanned flight for nearly a dozen hours while being able to carry roughly 6-8 passengers. The development of autonomous free flight in its complete form transferring over to Airbus’ UAM section could present a massive overhaul of how we approach the proposal of UAM services in urban areas. 

Source // Naval News

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Posted by Ian Shin

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