Airborne Concept (Hall 4 A108) is here exhibiting the Drop n’ Drone, an air-droppable, electrically powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can carry a two-pound payload. “The idea is to relieve a surveillance aircraft, such as a special-mission military transport, and still keep a site under watch,” Airborne Concept president Arnaud Le Maout told AIN. He alluded to those missions when terrorists have to be kept under constant observation so as not to lose track of a hostage.
If, for example, a manned aircraft has to leave the site to refuel, the crew can drop the UAV from any opening. “A parachute deploys, the wing–previously aligned with the fuselage–rotates into position, then the parachute detaches and the UAV pulls out,” Le Maout explained.
At the end of its mission, the UAV can fly to a preprogrammed point, which also can be changed in flight. It can either open a second parachute for a smooth recovery or crash if the operator does not want the enemy to use it.
A benefit of electric power is quietness. Terrorists know very well the sound of in-service piston-engine UAVs, Le Maout pointed out. Electric power is to be supported by a fuel cell, which is expected to push endurance to three to six hours.
The payload can use datalink, via ground networks or satellite, to transmit pictures, for example. Another application might be found in acting as a relay for telecommunications after a disaster such as a flood or an earthquake.
Airborne Concept hopes to sell 50 to 100 Drop n’ Drones in three years. The first flight was to take place on the eve of the show but had to be postponed due to the weather, according to Le Maout.