The Black Knight Transformer’s patented technology is a first-of-its-kind in vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. The vehicle design is highly modular for a wide variety of payloads including a ground drive-train unit that allows it drive like an automobile.
The Advanced Tactics Black Knight Transformer is a multi-engine rotorcraft drawing inspiration from small electric “multicopters” that have become popular in the last decade. Unlike the small electric versions, the Black Knight is a full scale aircraft with a significant payload and range capability. The vehicle also has a fully independent ground drivetrain that provides it with off-road driving capabilities so that it can reach any destination, whether a suitable landing zone is available or not.
Below is the official video of the Advanced Tactics Black Knight Transformer first driving and flying tests. The Black Knight Transformer is a “flying truck” that combines the best aspects of a helicopter and an automobile. It is a robust and inexpensive aircraft that can perform autonomous casualty evacuation and cargo resupply missions.
Weighing in at 4,400 pounds, the vehicle is expected to be able to reach a ground driving speed of 70 mph and an air cruising speed of 150 mph.
It was not selected for the DARPA Transformer program, the Black Knight has been incorporated into the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory’s Enhanced MAGTF Operations Aerial Delivery program. According to the video, the concept has also been sponsored by the Air Force Research Lab and the Army Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center.
Missions and Capabilities: Casualty Evacuation
The Black Knight Transformer is the world’s first roadable vertical takeoff and landing vehicle. This capability provides it with a new set of missions that could not previously be performed. As a casualty evacuation platform, the vehicle can land in a safe landing zone away from enemy fire and then drive to a wounded soldier so that he does not have to be carried, reducing danger to other soldiers.
Missions and Capabilities: Cargo Resupply
For cargo resupply missions, the vehicle can again land in a safe landing zone and drive to its final destination, even if that destination is otherwise inaccessible to ground vehicles. The driving capability is modular and can be removed to provide the aircraft with a significantly increased payload capacity. Alternatively, the ground drivetrain can be replaced with helicopter wheels/skids or a boat hull to offer different mission capabilities
Smaller Special Ops Flying Car
The primary goals of the challenge are as follows:
* Transport at least two people and their equipment (700 lb total) without being detected
* Provide transport and safe return over a distance of at least 30 kilometers over rugged, mountainous terrain
* Permit packaging for delivery or shipping in the CV-22 cargo hold
* Be able to transition from storage to operation in under four hours
* Operate autonomously in day/night and inclement weather conditions
* Consider OSHA and Air Force safety standards for manned vehicles
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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