Draper Laboratory unveiled another concept for nano air vehicle – the Magnetically Operated NAno RotorCraft (MONARC). This miniature aerostructure uses a coaxial rotor powered by two direct drive brushless motors that run on new 2 gram lithium- ion battery developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) delivering power density of 250 Whr/kg.
Actuation will be managed by magnetic virtual swash-plate with pitch amplification mechanism for directional control. The MONARC will use a unique control system, featuring a hybrid RF/Laser Radar (LIDAR) ‘tractor beam’ facilitating tele-operation and navigation indoor. It will use an avionics package weighing only two grams.
Draper is currently working on a DARPA program, expected to complete by year’s end. DARPA’s required the vehicle to weigh less than 8 grams, fit into a sphere of 3 inches in diameter and carry a payload of two grams on a 20 minute mission. Mission profile indicated by DARPA includes 2 kilometers ingress/egress flight and 60 second hovering.
MONARC will be able to sprint at up to five meters per second in the outdoors or fly autonomously on a controllable flight at a speed below 0.5 m/sec indoors. The current effort represents the first of a two phase program that seeks to develop and demonstrate an end-to-end system for hummingbird-scale UAV that executes ISR missions in denied battlespace. Another company participating in the DARPA NAV program is Lockheed Martin, which is designing a maple-seed like aerostructure for the NAV.