JUMPER’s Autonomous Takeoff Capability Increases Operational Flexibility
A Johannesburg-based company, Passerine Aircraft Corporation, is busy developing a prototype of the JUMPER UAS, which should be ready in about six months time.
JUMPER is unique, according to company founder and CEO Matthew Whalley. Its takeoff mode – jumping into the air on robotic legs – obviates the need for any prepared launch location or any other assistance. Landing is also achieved on the legs – in similar fashion to a bid – after the aircraft enters a stall.
Development began about six months ago after a startup accelerator programme in the US. Test flights with a platform using conventional undercarriage have so far been successful, evaluating the other unusual feature – twin electrically-driven ducted fans mounted above the wing, resulting in a relatively quiet UAS, with a top speed around 200km/h, though endurance currently looks to be limited to approx. an hour.
Although the company’s vision is focused on the commercial opportunities such a UAS will open up – even with a payload limited to 2kg – the advantage of a small, short range, multi-rotor platform, acoustically stealthy and able to operate from unprepared, unsupported locations for military and security missions is obvious.