WASP M4-TL quadcopter can be folded up and rocket-launched into action
In recent years, we've seen a few folding-wing drones that can be quickly and easily launched from a tube. The WASP M4-TL tactical UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) takes that same concept and applies it to a military-spec quadcopter.
Developed by British firm ISS Aerospace, the WASP currently exists in functional prototype form.
When not in use, it's stored/transported with its four propeller arms folded inside its cylindrical body. That body is in turn loaded into a portable rocket launcher that can be physically operated by an individual, or remotely operated if mounted on a ship, ground vehicle or other location.
Whatever the case, when the launcher is triggered, the WASP shoots up and out of it via a replaceable tail-mounted rocket engine. Its arms then flip out from its sides, allowing it to enter regular battery-powered quadcopter-style flight.
According to the company, the aircraft can be deployed in less than three seconds. Needless to say, it's intended for use in scenarios in which there just isn't time to unpack, unfold and calibrate a conventional multi-rotor drone. Possible applications include reconnaissance, the disabling of enemy drones, or the urgent delivery of medical supplies.
The WASP is equipped with a gimbal-mounted electro-optical/infrared camera with a rangefinder, plus it features a modular payload system that can be loaded with up to 1.5 kg (3.3 lb) of cargo. One charge of its thermal battery is claimed to be good for 20 minutes of flight time if carrying a full payload, or 30 minutes if empty.
The whole thing reportedly tips the scales at 4 kg (8.8 lb), and measures 550 mm long by 138 mm wide (21.6 by 5.4 in) when folded up.
It can be configured as needed for individual clients' needs, and will be on display at the DSEI (Defence and Security Equipment International) show in London later this month. For a different approach to tube-launch multi-rotor drones, check out what the US Navy has developed.
Source: ISS Aerospace