Fairfax, Virgina, USA
In 2018, Liza Pierce, CEO founded SpyDar and is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, USA. The company's goal is to advance electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) technology for both commercial and military use. The primary mission for the company is to design and manufacture low-cost autonomous and quick eVTOL transportation for doctors and medical personnel, traveling from urban areas to Critical Access Hospitals in rural areas.
For the company's propulsion system, it has developed its own Multi-Ducted Angled Rotor (M-DAR) and patented the technology in Dec. 2019. The Multi-Ducted Angled Rotor is novel system of propellers inside ductwork and positioned permanently on an angle. This provides a higher efficiency of propellers when compared to tilting-propellers, for both vertical and forward flight and without the need for any tilting of mechanics for the propellers. That is, actuators are not needed when going from vertical to forward flight and allows you to enter cruise flight without mechanical controls. Changing from vertical to forward flight is an electronics command which means this type of electronic control achieves higher transition speeds and lowers the drag on the aircraft.
The M-DAR propeller configuration reduces complexity, reduces weight, lowers the aircraft's purchase cost, reduces maintenance cost, increases the safety of the aircraft and increases the reliability of the aircraft. The M-DAR technology is scalable to larger aircraft.
SpyDar participated in Phase I–IV of the National Institute Science and Technology (NIST) First Responder Competition in 2021. The company made it to the final fly off in May 2021 and was one of eight companies to participate in Phase IV. In addition, the company was invited to test the Group 1 & 2 UAVs from the NIST competition at the Naval Post Graduate Schools Joint Experimentation Exercise at Camp Roberts, California, USA in August of 2021.
SpyDar has also participated in the AFWERX High-Speed VTOL (HSVTOL) design competition, announced in June 2021, for a crewed aircraft which can travel at jet-like speeds in battle conditions, have long range capabilities, in-air refueling and have flexible payload capabilities. SpyDar worked with Grey Cloak Aerospace on the low observability of the vehicle design and with EpiSci to integrate their Tactical A.I. software program.
For the AFWERX competition, the company designed an aircraft using M-DAR technology which also reduces the radar signature, when compared to existing tilt-rotor aircraft. The stealthy design is accomplished by using ducted propellers, having no moving control surfaces at speeds below 172 mph (279 kp/h, 150 kt) and used a blended wing body design. In August 2021, SpyDar finished Phase IV of the AFWERX competition which took place in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA and was selected as one of 35 participants out of 218 applicants.
The M-Star eVTOL aircraft is an autonomous two passenger vehicle specifically designed to quickly carry doctors from urban areas to work in underserved rural areas in Critical Access Hospitals. In 1997, the US Government established and funds 1,353 (as of 2021) underserved rural hospitals which are in desperate need of qualified doctors. Right now, Critical Access Hospitals are having a difficult time hiring full-time qualified experienced doctors and must pay for temporary doctors (like a temporary or contract employee) to provide much needed patient care and surgeries. Because rural hospitals must contract doctors from urban areas, the traveling time from urban to rural areas is too time consuming (driving a car) or too costly (car and helicopter) using today's current transportation options. The M-Star would solve this problem because it can takeoff and land anywhere, its fast, its low cost, safe and efficient.
The aircraft is ultimately slated to be fully autonomous but until this technology has matured the aircraft will first be highly automated. A doctor with limited pilot training, could make easy piloting decisions such as inputting its departure point and final destination and the aircraft would fly itself to its destination. One other addition mission would be to fly doctors and other medical professionals to disaster areas.
The M-Star's estimated cruise speed is 150 mph (241 km/h), with a range of 63 miles (101 km) and a cruise altitude of 3,000 ft (914 m). The empty weight of the eVTOL aircraft is 1,200 lb (544 kg), has a maximum payload of 400 lb (181 kg) and has a maximum takeoff weight of 1,600 lb (725 kg). The aircraft has 36 Multi-Ducted Rotors (M-DAR), uses 36 electric motors and uses batteries for its power source.
The front window is an elongated bubble-type window providing a panoramic view for its passengers including forward, left, right, top and bottom visibility. The fuselage is carbon fiber composite providing a very strong airframe yet keeping the weight of the aircraft to a minimum. In fact, the entire aircraft has been designed to limit complexity and keep the aircraft at a very low weight. The width of the aircraft is 8.5 ft (2.6 m). The aircraft has one low rear wing with winglets. The landing gear is fixed quadricycle wheeled landing gear.
Other possible variations of the M-Star
- Hybrid-electric power source to increase the range of the aircraft. This would also be useful for destinations without proper charging facilities.
- A rear pusher propeller to increase the flight range of the aircraft.
- Removable wings with steerable tricycle wheeled landing gear allowing doctors to drive limited distances on the road. The aircraft could also fly short distances without the wings if necessary.
- The aircraft is scalable and could be made larger if there was market demand.
The aircraft has been designed for both civilian and military missions. The company plans to first sell its aircraft for civilian use and then eventually sell their aircraft to the military. SpyDar is hopeful the aircraft will be certified as a light sport aircraft with the possibility of a waiver from the FAA. Once funding is achieved, the aircraft can be built fairly quickly due to the low complexity of its design. The company expects their aircraft to cost approximately $600,000.00 USD.
- Aircraft type: Autonomous eVTOL passenger aircraft
- Piloting: Autonomous or piloted with automated assistance
- Capacity: 2 medical personnel (Or 1 pilot and 1 doctor)
- Cruise speed: 150 mph (241 km/h)
- Range: 63 miles (101 km)
- Flight Time: Unknown
- Cruise altitude: 3,000 ft (914 m)
- Maximum payload: 400 lb (181 kg)
- Empty weight: 1,200 lb (544 kg)
- Maximum takeoff weight: 1,600 lb (725 kg)
- Propellers: 36 propellers
- Electric Motors: 36 electric motors
- Power source: Batteries
- Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
- Fuselage width: 8.5 ft (2.6 m)
- Windows: Panoramic wrap around bubble-type window allowing forward, left, right, top and bottom visibility for excellent views.
- Wings: 1 low rear wing with winglets
- Landing gear: Fixed quadricycle wheeled landing gear.
- Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers (or ducted fans) and motors on the aircraft so if one or more propellers (ducted fans) or motors fail, the other working propellers (or ducted fans) and motors can safely land the aircraft. There are also redundancies in the sub-systems of the aircraft. The aircraft will have a ballistic parachute for emergency situations.
- SkyDar website
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