A new programme funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) aims to create a new breed of vehicles that will combine the advantages of ground vehicles with those of helicopters.
The Transformer (TX) programme will see AAI and Lockheed Martin work to develop ground vehicles that can transform into air vehicles with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability, and travel 250 nautical miles on land and in the air while carrying up to four soldiers and their equipment.
DARPA would like to see the guidance and flight-control systems allow the vehicles to fly semi-autonomously, permitting a non-pilot to perform VTOLs, transition into forward flight and update the flight path in response to changing mission requirements or threats.
During the next 12 months, the two companies leading the projects will work with third parties to propose designs, propulsion systems, adaptable wing structures, advanced lightweight materials, advanced flight-control systems and energy-distribution systems for the vehicles.
Results of the initial work will be used by DARPA to decide upon how to progress the designs further.
AAI and Lockheed Martin Transformer Concepts