US-based Reference Technologies has launched its new range of Hummingbird vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

To be rolled out in three variants at the upcoming 2014 AUVSI Convention, the Hummingbird range is claimed to offer more than five hours of flight time and payloads of more than 25lb, which make them first of their kind in the VTOL UAS market.

Reference Technologies founder and president Allen Bishop said: "After two and a half years of development and testing, the Hummingbird aircraft will begin customer deliveries in Q3 of this year."

Incorporating a proprietary design including external multi-rotors fixed on the periphery of a central ducted fan, each airframe of the Hummingbird range features multiple hard points that carry/discharge mission specific payloads.

"The Hummingbird range is claimed to offer more than five hours of flight time and payloads of more than 25lb."

The battery-powered Model I UAS comes with a medium flight duration and light payload capacity, while the hybrid powered-Model II uses a gas powered electrical system that offers power to six external rotors encircling a 19in electrically powered central ducted fan together with two counter rotating fans.

Claimed to be the long flight duration and high payload UAS, the Model III is an improved variant of the Model II, which uses eight external rotors together with a 24in central ducted fan to boost flight duration and payload capacity.

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Further, a range of ground control interfaces including Intel, Android and iOS-based devices can be used to manage direct flight control and pre-programmed flight plans.

Defence Technology