Development of an Integrated Multi-mode Propulsion system for UAS Leveraging Speed and Endurance (IMPULSE)

Period of Performance: 06/12/2013 - 03/10/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Area I, Inc.
1590 N Roberts Rd
Kennesaw, GA 30144
Principal Investigator


ABSTRACT: Area-I proposes to develop an Integrated Multi-mode Propulsion system for UAS Leveraging Speed and Endurance (IMPULSE) to provide a paradigm shift in the performance of small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS). The development of IMPULSE will lead to a state-of-the-art, high-energy-density power system that is cruise efficient for extended endurance, yet provides high power-density required for rapid response dash capabilities. The Phase I IMPULSE program will entail an extensive trade study of existing, emerging, and hybrid advanced power systems, which will assess their ability to perform the mission set forth in the solicitation. The program will begin with an exhaustive evaluation and down-selection of potential power systems, and will end with extensive high-fidelity simulation of combined power system, propulsion system, and airframe models. The Phase I program will result in a ranked evaluation of potential system feasibility and provide a description of the path forward for further development. The team will recommend a system to be further evaluated through bench-testing and wind-tunnel testing during a Phase II program. BENEFIT: Identification and development of feasible power system technology to meet the performance specifications for long endurance and fast dash has great potential to change the way Group 2 SUAS are used in theater and in civilian use. The added capabilities could significantly reduce life-cycle costs of the system, and bringing rapid response ability to smaller, Group 2 SUAS, as opposed to larger, more expensive platforms, could greatly reduce the overall logistical footprint of the fleet. In light of the potential performance increases the identified power systems may bring, Area-I has already garnered support from industry leaders for future integration of the IMPULSE with currently fielded SUAS leading to the possibility of Phase III funding. Additionally, through a strategic partnership with a leading power system developer, Area-I has the ability build and bench-test prototypes and access to wind-tunnel testing facilities. Finally, Area-I s extensive flight testing support capabilities enable the entire development cycle from concept through to flight proven technology.