May 23, 2022
By Tom Atwood
While exhibitors at Xponential 2022 provided an abundant array of products and components for unmanned systems, particularly impressive was Aergility’s ATLIS cargo UAV, a 24.33-foot wingspan hybrid-powered eVTOL cargo transport airplane.
ATLIS features a kerosene or diesel-burning 90kW (120 hp) turboprop engine that turns a 67-inch, four-blade tractor propeller, which propels the aircraft in horizontal flight like any conventional airplane. The aircraft gains efficiency in forward flight owing to its patented “managed autorotation technology,” where the rotor (Aergility calls them ‘protors’) operates in auto-rotation in forward flight, similar to an autogyro. This delivers multi-rotor simplicity with the efficient performance of fixed-wing aircraft, yielding a range of more than 300 miles, and a 100 mph cruise speed with payloads up to 500 lbs.
Owing to fewer moving parts, the eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicle requires comparatively minimal maintenance, the company said. Its design incorporates high survivability: if ATLIS experiences a loss of a protor or loses one battery pack, it can fly with only four active protors. If there is a loss of its three-way redundant batteries, the aircraft can continue to fly in auto-rotation mode. If the turbine engine quits, ATLIS can glide in auto-rotation to a landing site with only protors, and land as a multi-rotor.
The ATLIS can provide long-range, heavy-lift deliveries, and enables a range of otherwise difficult or impossible logistics use cases with enhanced economy and reliability. The company said because ATLIS eliminates the need for massive ground infrastructure investments, it offers significantly lower capital and operating costs, a benefit especially relevant in developing countries.
Jim Vander Mey, the founder and CEO of Aerigility, has been a founder and CEO of two other successful technology startups, and has taught computer science at two Big 10 universities. Larry Yonge, co-founder and vice president of research & development, has managed advanced technology research and development with more than 100 U.S. patents.
For more details on the company and the ATLIS vehicle, visit the Aergility website here.
Xponential attendees look at the Aergility ATLIS eVTOL aircraft.
A closer look at the ATLIS ‘protors’ that allow it to gain efficiency in forward flight.
Another view of the rotor mast of the Aergility ATLAS eVTOL aircraft.