Innovative Heavy Fuel Engines for UAVs

Exploring Potential Propulsion System Concepts for New Heavy-Lift UAS

Orbital UAV will play a crucial role in the strategic deployment of Animal Dynamics' Stork-STM UAS, bringing a potential global operating domain to a vehicle designed to work in harsh, austere environments By Phoebe Grinter / 12 Dec 2022
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Orbital UAV and UK-based Animal Dynamics have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in order to explore initial concepts for heavy fuel engine systems for the Stork-STM heavy-lift UAS being developed by Animal Dynamics. 

The companies believe this will result in a highly performant, reliable and maintainable engine that will excel across the wide range of environmental conditions that Stork-STM will fly in. 

Stork-STM is an autonomous, heavy lift parafoil built from first engineering principles. It is a new autonomy solution designed to carry heavy cargo weighing 135kg up to 400km. Operational beyond visual line of sight and able to take off and land across short distances on unprepared ground, Stork-STM is designed for military resupply, humanitarian aid and emergency response missions. 

According to Orbital UAV, its engine performance and ability to operate in extreme temperatures, from -30°C up to 49°C, will play a crucial role in the strategic deployment of Stork-STM, bringing a potential global operating domain to a vehicle designed to work in the harshest and most austere environments.

Orbital UAV’s rapid in-house prototyping and cradle-to-grave product lifecycle capabilities enable the company to take an engine from concept and definition, through to full rate engine production and in-service support, and will help to accelerate the commercial deployment of Stork-STM. 

“Animal Dynamics represents an exciting opportunity to take Orbital UAV’s patented engine technology into the European market and expand our global reach,” said Todd Alder, CEO and Managing Director of Orbital UAV. “Stork-STM is a ground-breaking UAS, that will create a unique solution for the defense sector, and beyond.” 

Kevin Allington, CEO of Animal Dynamics, added: “Orbital represent our first choice to develop the best possible powertrain for our vehicle. We’re confident our customers will be able to rely on their performant and reliable technology in the most difficult operating environments.” 

As well as powering Stork-STM vehicles, which are being developed for the UK, USA and other allied countries, this engine work will also power a sovereign Australian vehicle, Pelican, being developed in conjunction with Animal Dynamics and Omega Dev Group in Sydney. 

“Orbital’s world class engineering is another good reason for the Australian Defence Force to be confident that our Pelican UAV brings class leading performance and value for money,” said Blair Hickey, CEO of Omega Dev. 

Heavy fuel engine capability continues to be a growing requirement for the global UAS market. As more of the market’s players look to meet this requirement, Orbital UAV’s unique technology and engine performance continues to expand the company’s customer portfolio. 

“The logistical and safety benefits of heavy fuel – combined with Orbital UAV’s patented technology and proven capability – continue to drive our global growth opportunity,” said Alder. “We already have established contracts with prime contractors in the USA and our major Singapore defense customer. This opportunity with Animal Dynamics expands our global reach and builds on a number of other near-term opportunities.” 

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Image courtesy and copyright of Animal Dynamics
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Posted by Phoebe Grinter Unmanned Systems Technology’s digital editor and copywriter Phoebe takes a fresh and enthusiastic approach to researching, writing and posting the latest unmanned technology updates, and in managing the UST social channels. Connect & Contact