Northrop Grumman and Yamaha Motor USA have partnered to develop and market an unmanned “autonomous” rotorcraft system based on Yamaha’s RMax agricultural helicopter. The Rotary Bat (R-Bat) is targeted for search and rescue, power line inspection and forest fire observation missions.
The companies’ announcement on May 8 indicated that the R-Bat will join Northrop Grumman’s Bat line of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) the company unveiled in 2009 after acquiring the KillerBee blended wing UAV line from Swift Engineering.
“Yamaha Motor has produced remotely-piloted unmanned helicopters for over 25 years,” said Toshizumi Kato, Yamaha Motor USA president. “Northrop Grumman's merging of our efficient and affordable aircraft with their expertise in autonomous control systems will deliver a unique capability to their Bat UAS portfolio.”
Meanwhile, Cypress, Calif.-based Yamaha USA is seeking to type certify the RMax for eventual commercial use in the U.S., the FAA has said. The helicopter is used extensively in Japan as well as in Australia and Korea. In a separate announcement on May 8, Yamaha said it will display its new “Fazer” remotely piloted helicopter for the first time in the U.S. at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2014 conference next week in Orlando. The Fazer features a new fuel-injected four-stroke engine and 50 percent greater payload capacity, with new transmitter and control system.