Ricardo’s Wolverine3 takes flight

Ricardo’s Wolverine3 heavy fuel unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) engine has completed its first in-flight tests at the US National Nuclear Security Administration’s Nevada site.

The Ricardo Wolverine3 is a 3.1 horsepower, two-cylinder, two-stroke, air-cooled engine with spark ignition, direct fuel injection and 500W of on-board power designed to power lightweight, tactical UAVs.

For its first flight, the Wolverine3 was integrated into a Nightwind 2 aircraft, built by Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), of Las Vegas. The Nightwind is a blended wing aircraft with 100 per cent composite construction and a 2m wingspan.

’Tactical UAVs are ideal for surveillance and intelligence gathering missions and the Wolverine3 has the potential to transform the role of UAVs on the battlefield by solving the logistical, safety and reliability issues created by today’s gasoline-powered engines,’ said Kent Niederhofer, president of Ricardo.

’The Ricardo Wolverine3 is purpose-built for lightweight tactical UAVs like the UAS Nightwind family but the technology is readily applicable to auxiliary power units and automated ground vehicles, as well as civilian markets like border security and fire-fighting.’

Stephen Cakebread, Ricardo project director, unmanned systems, and architect of the Wolverine3, said the development team brought the engine from concept to an operational, production-representative prototype status in six months.