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Designs for the future of unmanned aircraft vehicles

Industrialists, academics and students will gather at the University of Hertfordshire this Saturday (13th December) to view the latest designs for Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAV), some of which formed the Ministry of Defence Grand Challenge.

Dr Rashid Ali, at the University’s School of Aerospace, Automotive and Design Engineering and co-ordinator of The European Student Competition of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (ESCO-UAS) has organised an event where Industrial UAS platforms will be on show along with the students’ designs. A winner will be announced from the student designs.

The event, which will be held at the University’s Prince Edward Hall from 11am-3pm on Saturday 13 December, will welcome major companies and stakeholders connected with Unmanned Aircraft Systems, plus staff and students from universities across the UK.

On display unveiled for the first time, is the SHOT* UAV. This is a unique, modular unmanned aerial vehicle currently being researched and developed in association with the University of Hertfordshire, and sponsored by Aeroflex (Cambridge) Ltd. Its aerodynamically efficient profile and interchangeable components are designed to allow operation through an exceptionally large range of altitudes and speeds exceeding those of a range of separate aerial vehicles. Its operational envelope is expected to include point-to-point transfer, high and low altitude hovering, loitering, and horizontal acceleration to supersonic speeds. Coupled with its Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) capability with no requirement for special launch platforms, and its potential to reduce training and maintenance costs over this envelope, the SHOT UAV represents a convergence of uniquely applied technologies towards the next generation of the UAV.

*patents pending

The ESCO-UAS competition engages final-year undergraduate degree students, working in teams of 8-10, to undertake a full design, build and fly cycle of an UAS of up to 20kg.

“This is the first time that a university has ever hosted a competition like this,” said Dr Rashid Ali, University of Hertfordshire’s co-ordinator of the project. “In the past, there have been competitions for UASs of up to 7kg, but 20kg is really something.”

The competition which is held annually will be judged by a high-powered stakeholder group comprising, The Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (UVS International, The Netherlands), The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems Association (UAVS, UK), Welsh Assembly Government, The University of Hertfordshire, The European Group of Institutes of Navigation (EUGIN), with provision of an additional member from the Association of Aerospace Universities (AAU, UK). The competition secretariat will be provided by the University of Hertfordshire.

“UAS’s are the future of aerospace and will be worth US$40 billion by 2019” said Dr Ali. “By hosting this competition, we are providing our students with an unrivalled opportunity to get involved in a growing marketplace, and to showcase their effort before eminent people connected with the UAS sector”.

Helene Murphy | alfa
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