WanderB vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) mini unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is a fully autonomous drone developed by BlueBird Aero Systems, an unmanned air systems manufacturer based in Israel.
The UAV is intended to provide intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) mission capability to defence, security and paramilitary forces.
The aircraft is also suitable for other operational missions such as search and rescue, border protection, force/convoy protection, naval operations, law enforcement, security, disaster control and management, emergency medical services, photogrammetry mapping, and commercial applications.
The WanderB was introduced at Aero India 2019 show held in India in February 2019.
An undisclosed European country placed orders for 150 VTOL unmanned aerial systems of different categories developed by BlueBird to meet multi-mission requirements of its artillery corps, armoured units, infantry soldiers, and special forces. The contract that amounts tens of millions of euros was awarded in February 2020.
WanderB VTOL UAV design and features
WanderB VTOL air vehicle combines fixed-wing design with tilt-rotor mechanism. The UAV flies like a plane in the fixed-wing mode, while in the hover mode it hovers like a multi-copter or quadcopter.
The aircraft’s wings are equipped with two tilt-rotors, which ensure smooth transition between fixed-wing mode and multi-copter mode. Its tail section features an inverted V-tail.
The UAV has a wingspan of 3.1m, while its fuselage has a length of 1.79m. The maximum take-off weight of the drone is 13kg, while its payload carrying capacity is 1.35kg.
The aircraft has the capability to perform automatic vertical take-off and landing operations in confined spaces. It can transition from hovering to forward flight easily to provide over-the-hill intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. It is also capable of automatic accurate landing at the desired spot.
Payloads on-board WanderB VTOL UAV
WanderB tactical UAV is outfitted with a two- or three-axis gyro-stabilised gimbal electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) real-time video payload that provides maximum range surveillance, tracking of moving targets, and detection of moving objects.
The payload incorporates high performance optical and thermal imaging sensors for capturing high quality imagery and videos in both day and night conditions. The imagery can be marked with precise GPS-derived locations to improve situational awareness and mission execution capability.
The drone also carries photogrammetric payloads to capture images in multiple wavelength bands as well as photogrammetric still images. They are also used to collect related meta-data and generate post-flight orthophoto.
Ground control station
WanderB VTOL air vehicle is operated by Bluebird’s advanced, intuitive portable ground control station, which consists of a laptop and joystick.
The imagery, videos and moving tactical map captured by on-board sensors are relayed in real-time to the ground control station, where they can be viewed on a rugged computer screen. The ground control station is integrated with video-exploitation software for processing and exploitation of videos.
Bluebird’s ground data terminal facilitates communication between the UAV and the ground segment via two orthogonal links, command and telemetry, and video. It offers a communication range of 50km, which can be optionally extended up to 80km.
Performance of WanderB VTOL UAS
WanderB VTOL UAV is powered by an electric brushless motor that runs on two batteries weighing up to 5.5kg. It can travel at speeds between 32kt and 65kt and stay in the air for up to 150 minutes.
The drone has the ability to reach altitudes of up to 22,000ft above sea level, while its operational altitude above ground level is 3,280ft.
With the advantages of a multi-copter, the WanderB UAV can fly even in the event of engine failure. It also has the ability to withstand strong winds and can operate in harsh weather conditions.