AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV) is proceeding with the development of Nano Aerial vehicles (NANO), with the receipt of $636,000 follow-on (Phase II) award from DARPA. The award funds the design, building and flying of a Nano Air Vehicle prototype weighing about 10 grams. AV’s NAV is designed to be able to carry a payload of up to 2 grams.
According to plans, the six month program will culminate with a flight demonstration of a rudimentary, three-inch flapping-wing air vehicle system. If proven successful, DARPA has the option to extend the program for an additional 18 months which could increase the Phase II contract value.
The NAV program was initiated by DARPA to develop a new class of air vehicles capable of indoor and outdoor operations. Employing biological mimicry at an extremely small scale this unconventional aircraft is designed to provide new military reconnaissance capabilities in urban environments. Other companies developing NAV systems under this program are Draper and Lockheed Martin
“The NAV program represents the early development of a revolutionary new class of UAS that could eventually provide valuable new capabilities to our customers” said John Grabowsky, AV executive vice president and general manager of unmanned aircraft systems. According Grabowsky, the Raven and Wasp III UAS currently deployed wit Army, Marines and Special Forces began as early development programs similar to the NAV program. The United States Army reported that its Ravens were flown for approximately 150,000 combat hours in 2007.