Advanced Tactics Inc. announced that it has successfully completed the first flight test of the Black Knight Transformer, a modular and roadable vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft. Advanced Tactics is at the forefront of large scale multicopter design, production, and testing and the successful flights of the Black Knight Transformer open the door to a number of future aircraft designs that leverage Advanced Tactics’ patented and patent-pending technologies.
The patented AT Transformer technology combines the capabilities of a helicopter, such as the ability to take off and land anywhere, with the capabilities of an off-road automobile. The AT Black Knight Transformer completed driving tests in December 2013 and completed its first flight tests in March 2014. The Black Knight Transformer is the world’s largest multicopter that is controlled and stabilized with propeller speed. The aircraft has a maximum takeoff weight of 4,400 lb.
The flight test was performed at a private location in Southern California and the aircraft was remotely piloted for safety. The stability and attitude of the aircraft was controlled entirely by the autopilot. The only commands from the remote (human) pilot were to increase or decrease power. Outrigger landing gear was attached to the aircraft to prevent it from rolling over in case of any mishaps. The aircraft completed multiple short hover flights. Although the aircraft is capable of hovering at thousands of feet above the ground, the altitude was limited to less than 10 feet above the ground for safety. The aircraft was stable, controllable, and performed as expected. An electric quadcopter drone was used to capture aerial footage of the flights as seen in Figure 3.
The development of the AT Transformer concept was spurred by several things: the growing popularity and acceptance of “multicopter” aircraft, the military’s need for a low-cost platform for casualty evacuation and cargo resupply missions, and our passion for developing game-changing military and civilian vehicle technology. The aircraft is designed specifically for autonomous casualty evacuation and unmanned cargo resupply missions. Its unmanned capabilities keep pilots out of harm’s way during dangerous missions while a pilot-optional capability allows it to be flown like a conventional helicopter. Advanced Tactics began work on the AT Black Knight Transformer in 2010 with funding from the United States Congress. In 2012, Advanced Tactics began work on the AT Panther Transformer, a similar vehicle designed specifically for Special Operations missions. It is a low-cost vehicle that carries two passengers and their gear, is transportable in a CV-22 Osprey cargo hold, and is operable with minimal training. Advanced Tactics is also currently developing a modular, cargo carrying aircraft capable of delivering up to 3,500 lb payloads in a detachable cargo pod. The AT Transformer technology is scalable and reconfigurable.