Background

Skeeter is a R&D project to build a small-scale Unmanned Aerial System ("UAS"), which Animal Dynamics is undertaking with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, or Dstl, which is part of the UK's Ministry of Defence. The project started in 2015, and initially focused on feasibility; research is currently focused on building and testing vehicles.

Design

We decided to base the overall design on the the body plan of a dragonfly: dragonflies are very agile in flight, have high endurance and are able to glide. They are also natures's most successful predator. Flapping wing propulsion has been chosen, as it enables gliding, is quiet, and is highly efficient. Unlike a vertical rotor, wings have  symmetrical drag characteristics, and inbuilt suspension, which make them particularly good at tolerating turbulent air.

 

 
Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon visiting our office, Feb 2017

Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon visiting our office, Feb 2017

use cases

The initial use for Skeeter is as a short-range surveillance platform, for situational awareness - with the ability to operate in high wind conditions and fly longer distances on lower power than existing small UAS. Small UAS are currently in use by the military, and have proven valuable when weather conditions allow. Skeeter is designed to extend the capability of small UAS, resulting in a vehicle that can operate in a greater range of conditions, and fly for longer. 

Skeeter also has uses in search and rescue, surveying, and agriculture; and in particular where small-scale hovering UAS with high gust tolerance, high speed and greater endurance are required.

key facts

Length: 120mm

Weight: less than 50g

Noise: about the same as a dragonfly

Speed: 45 km/h

Materials: multiple composites