DARPA Unveils Plans for Flying Drones With Detachable Modules

Posted on February 17, 2014

DARPA has unveiled plans for new vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) flying drones with detachable mission modules. The modules would enable to drones to be used for different purposes, such as casualty evacuation and cargo resupply. The drones are part of the Transformer program DARPA unveiled in 2009. Artists concepts of the drones are pictured.

The Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System (ARES) drones would have a VTOL flight module designed to operate as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The UAV would be able to transport different payloads and work with the different modules. Twin tilting ducted fans would provide hovering and landing capabilities. DARPA says it would also be able to achieve high-speed cruise flight similar to a small aircraft. DARPA says soldiers could control the modules using apps on rugged tablets. The drones would be able to land on helicopter zones.

Ashish Bagai, DARPA program manager, says in a release, "Many missions require dedicated vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) assets, but most ground units don't have their own helicopters. ARES would make organic and versatile VTOL capability available to many more individual units. Our goal is to provide flexible, terrain-independent transportation that avoids ground-based threats, in turn supporting expedited, cost-effective operations and improving the likelihood of mission success."

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