Quad Turbine VTOL Drone
JetQuad is the world's smallest and most powerful jet-powered drone with vertical take-off and landing capabilities. It is like an unmanned, scaled-down version of the Harrier Jump-Jet
At its foundation, the AB5 JetQuad is a drone, also known as UAV (Unmanned Aeriel Vehicle) or UAS (Unmanned Aerial System). However, the JetQuad relies on new type of propulsion - it is not a quadcopter, nor a helicopter, nor an airplane. Four micoturbine jet-engines produce a combined 200-Horsepower at full throttle and are all coupled with proprietary Thrust Vectoring Systems. We refer to this design as the "H-Configuration" - this is the first ever configuration in which the jet-engines alone provide the power for both vertical and horizontal flight as well as complete attitude control of the vehicle. The result is a compact, fully-autonomous, all-diesel drone, that can take-off and land virtually from any surface and capable of high speeds and payload capacity. FusionFlight has been developing JetQuad since 2016, check out some of the articles published over the years.
In addition, the high-precision Thrust Vectoring Systems (TVS) offer numerous advantages over modern multicopters. The TVS are actuated by high-torque servos which have significantly faster response time then the brushless motors/propellers used on ordinary electrical drones. As a result, the JetQuad is more agile and more controllable. The TVS also allow the channeling of engine exhaust from all four turbines in the aft direction of the drone during horizontal flight. Consequently, the JetQuad can utilize the power of all four engines to attain top-speeds unimaginable for similar-by-size VTOL aircraft.
Specifications at a Glance
Compact and Lightweight
The AB5 JetQuad is specifically designed so that it can easily be carried by a single person. Empty and unloaded, the drone weighs 50lbs and has convenient rails to hold onto. In addition, the small footprint of the drone means it can be transported using most common ground vehicles. The production version of the JetQuad will contain retractable landing gear equipped with shock-spring systems to further cushion the aircraft during landing and provide additional flexibility for taking-off and landing from uneven terrain.
Extensive Payload Accomodations
The naturally sleek and flat configuration of the JetQuad allows for both highly aerodynamic horizontal flight as well as the ability to accommodate many different style payloads. Payloads of various weights and sizes may be easily mounted on the front, back, and top. Extra-large payloads may be mounted underneath the vehicle in a very similar configuration to the NASA Mars Curiosity Rover Sky Crane System.
In the "Sky-Crane" configuration, the JetQuad would hover about 15ft at the payload drop off location, and slowly lower the payload to the ground using four electric winches. The Thrust Vectoring Systems are designed specifically to divert all hot gases away from the vehicle during hover allowing for the undercarriage payload to remain cool throughout the flight and payload deployment operation. In addition, the jet-engines can also generate plenty of on-board electricity to power sophisticated computer vision systems necessary for the safe operation of such high-speed drone.
Simplicity and Scalability
The JetQuad design is simple and elegant. The drone is built from several modules put together - each module may be disassembled and replaced with minimal effort. The complete design of the drone contains only eight moving components - four turbines and four servo-motors. Such a small quantity of moving parts leads to superb reliability and reduced manufacturing costs, especially when compared to the same-class helicopter. For comparison, helicopters may have hundreds of moving parts and require frequent and often-time expensive maintenance.
The simplicity behind the AB5 JetQuad design also leads to scalability. A scaled-up version of the JetQuad, fitted with larger fuel tanks, may accommodate all aviation-grade jet-engines. Such a drone can support ultra-heavy cargo capacity missions without the expensive price-tag of renting out a similar (by size) helicopter. The same scaled-up platform would also enable the construction of the first flying car that does not have any external propellers; such a machine would look and feel like an ordinary car and be able to park in a standard parking space.
Furthermore, the jet-engines are inherently simple and reliable devices that may also be augmented with additional features to greatly boost their performance, resulting a faster and even more capable vehicle. Afterburners, for example, can be readily combined with the proprietary Thrust Vectoring Systems to allow the JetQuad to travel faster then the speed of sound - no other VTOL drone technology in the world today has such potential. Finally, the form-factor of the JetQuad is ideal for use within a lifting-body shell. The lifting-body will greatly improve aerodynamics and most importantly provide natural lift during high-velocity cruise. Additional lift means the engines can be slightly de-throttled, ultimately saving fuel, and greatly extending the endurance and range of the vehicle.
Key Advantages: Jet-Engines and Diesel
The performance of the AB5 JetQuad surpasses all other drone technologies for two main reasons: the use of jet-engines for propulsion, and diesel for fuel. The microturbines (small jet-engines) have the highest power-to-mass and power-to-volume densities of all known air-breathing engines. This means that when compared to similar-sized Internal Combustion Engines or electrical motors (as used in most modern drone designs) the jet-engines can output significantly more power. Furthermore, diesel fuel which is readily available anywhere in the world has 40-times more energy density then conventional Lithium Polymer batteries and takes minutes to refuel instead of hours that it takes to recharge batteries. When combined together, the product is a very compact and reliable drone that can go faster and carry more then any other drone of similar size.
It is obvious that four jet-engines will generate quite a lot of noise, so the current JetQuad drone is noisy - estimated about 120db if you are standing right next to it. However, there are several noise suppression technologies which are yet to be explored such as specially designed intake systems, exhaust systems, and active noise cancellation using onboard speakers. Future versions of the JetQuad will certainly be more silent thanks to these technologies, but for now the applications will be confined to those not requiring low-noise operation. Furthermore, it is also worth to mention that noise-type plays an important role. For instance, low-RPM beating of helicopter blades is deemed more annoying to the human ear then the more uniform whistling of jet-engines. It is also worth to mention, that the engines in the JetQuad operate at a much higher RPM then quadcopters or helicopters (about 100,000rpm). The resulting high frequency sound is barely audible at short distances away from the drone - very fast sound dissipation in the atmosphere. In comparison, the low RPM of helicopters produces low-frequency sound that travels far and is audible miles away. Check out the flight video below (test #2) to get a better idea of what the JetQuad sounds like.
Production and Sales
The AB5 JetQuad is a prototype model. We are actively working on finalizing our pilot model AB6 JetQuad (by improving overall vehicle reliability and expanding the flight envelope). This version will be available for sale starting in the summer of 2021, pending qualification testing. Variants with larger engines and improved aerodynamics will follow later.