The first bidder for DARPA's Transformer (TX) "flying Humvee" program to break cover is Logi AeroSpace
, which describes itself as "a prototype shop" that has built a dozen or so flying vehicles, some of them manned. The name is not familiar to me, but their partners in the TX bid are: ducted-fan VTOL developer Trek Aerospace
, electric car manufacturer Zap
, and Southwest Research Institute
(SwRI). Together they are proposing the Tyrannos AT-TV.All concepts: Logi AeroSpace
The Tyrannos is a four-seat vertical take-off and landing roadable aircraft powered by a supercharged racing engine driving a generator and a battery pack. These drive electric motors on the wheels for road use and four variable-pitch shrouded propellers for flight. On the road, the wings fold back against the tail booms. The ducted prop in the nose is fixed at -12deg incidence while the other three pivot from horizontal for vertical flight to vertical for forward flight.
Claimed performance for the Tyrannos includes a 50kt cruise speed on the ground and 135kt in the air, with battery-limited dash speeds of 90kt and 210kt, respectively. Fuel consumption is 37nm/gal on the road and 17nm/gal in the air, giving a range of 590nm and 250nm, respectively. Hover altitude is 10,000ft, says Logi. The vehicle is carbonfiber, but weighs in at 3,000lb for a vertical take-off with a 1,100lb payload, and 3,750lb for a short (180ft) take-off with a 1,850lb payload.
Logi says the Tyrannos is designed for non-pilots, with an autopilot performing automatic vertical take-off and landing and cruise along predetermined routes. The driver can override the autopilot and change route, altitude or speed using controls similar to those in an SUV - wheel, pedals and cruise control. If a ducted fan fails, the pair on the alternate axis can provide all the lift, says Logi, each of the motors providing up to 175hp in an emergency.
DARPA's missions for TX include ship-to-shore operations for Marine patrols, flying over IED zones, resupplying remote sites and medavac. After all my years as an aerospace journalist I should be far too jaded and sceptical, but looking at the Tyrannos I find myself thinking...hoping?...that this might actually work.