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The innovative folding wing Transwing X-P4 drone by PteroDynamics has completed a critical set of sea trials for the United States Navy. The fully autonomous, all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) UAV managed to approach and land safely on a moving target, completing nine autonomous launch and recovery flights.
Tim Whitehand, PteroDynamics VP of Engineering, said: “Participating in The Hybrid Fleet Campaign Event brought us closer to our goal of providing the U.S. Navy with a flexible and scalable shore-to-ship, ship-to-ship, and ship-to-shore automated cargo delivery capability.”
According to Interesting Engineering, the Transwing platform has a unique dihedral folding wing system that lets it switch between hover and cruise modes, providing significant advantages. The dihedral hinges around which the wings rotate enable the wings to tilt as they fold so that when they rest against the aircraft’s body, they face upwards along with the propellers.
When the drone lands its wings fold back, so it can vertically take off and land like a multi-copter drone but then travel proficiently by utilizing wing lift during forward flight. When the wings are vertical, the drone can also hover and maneuver at low airspeeds.
The company asserts that its innovative and patented design resembles a forward-flight plane with propellers along its wings.
The aircraft has a wingspan of 4 meters and a maximum takeoff weight of 38 kilograms. It can travel up to 111 kilometers at a cruising speed before its battery runs out and can reach a maximum speed of 185 kph.
PteroDynamics is reportedly planning on developing even larger drones- the next drone in line, called X-P5, will have a wingspan of 6.7 meters and a payload capacity of 23 kilograms, while the X-P6 will have a wingspan of 9.1 meters and a carrying capacity of 100 kilograms for up to 1,574 kilometers.