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 Aerial 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 microturbine 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.
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.
Compact and Lightweight
The 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 Reliability
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.
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.
Blended Wing Body
For applications requiring high endurance and high range of travel, the JetQuad must be encapsulated in an aerodynamic body. The most aerodynamic configuration is based on features derived from the Blended Wing Body (BWB) design originally developed by NASA and Boeing. This design maximizes internal volume and the lift coefficient of the vehicle body. For the JetQuad, increased lift means that the front two engines can be shut down during cruise while the aft engines are throttled down to 20%. The resulting vehicle maintains the VTOL and high-payload capabilities of the base platform while boosting endurance and range by an order of magnitude. This is just one example of encapsulation for the JetQuad platform - designed specifically towards fuel efficiency. Other designs of the body are also possible, only limited by imagination.
Applications for High-Speed Aerial Mobility
In order for the JetQuad platform to be truly successful, it must be scaled up. As with most aircraft and launch vehicles, scaling-up the platform greatly reduces the mass penalty related to avionics, fuel systems, and structures. For this reason, upon successful production and deployment of the AB6 JetQuad, FusionFlight will focus on the next generation vehicle - the AB7 JetQuad.
The AB7 (currently in the concept design phase) is double the size of the AB6 (6ft long by 4ft wide), but packs nearly four times the horsepower (800HP) allowing it to safely lift a 200lb payload. The AB7 JetQuad will allow FusionFlight to enter and further revolutionize several new transportation markets, specifically ones related to single person transport. The AB7 may be powered by eight or more turbines, allowing for engine-loss redundancy. As with all JetQuad platforms, the AB7 platform is propeller-less, with no externally rotating airfoils which greatly maximizes safety. As a result, it is ideal for two human transport applications. These vehiclea may be equipped with two or more engines per corner (for a total of 8, 12, or 16 engines) to allow for continued operation in an engine-out scenario.
The AB7 Urban Air Mobility (UAM) configuration, or “Flying Car” in simpler terms, will position a single person in an ergonomic seat on top of the platform. The resulting transport will have great advantages over similar single-person eVTOL transports currently under development. Besides the obvious top-speed advantage, the AB7 UAM will be capable of refueling in minutes with ordinary diesel fuel, and easily transportable to and from the launch site in the back of a pick-up truck.
The second notable application of the AB7 platform is Emergency Medical Evacuation (MedeVac), or “Flying Stretcher”. In this configuration, a person is positioned in a horizontal orientation within a standard aerial stretcher (as often used by helicopters) located on top of the platform. However, unlike helicopters, the AB7 Medevac is incredibly compact and will be capable of reaching and rescuing individuals trapped in terrain normally inaccessible by helicopters. Furthermore, survivability of a person greatly depends on how fast he or she gets delivered to the Emergency Room. As a result, the top-speed advantage of the AB7 Medevac, coupled with high-altitude operation capability and weather resiliency will make for a truly next-generation emergency rescue system.
Key Advantages: Jet-Engines and Diesel
The performance of the 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.