UAV AeroVironment partners up with NASA to build first drone to fly on Mars

  • NASA

AeroVironment has announced, that it has partnered up with NASA`s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to build the first drone to fly on Mars.

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The unmanned Mars helicopter was recently selected by NASA/JPL´s Mars exploration program. AeroVironment has now won the trust of NASA to build the drone helicopter. It will be the first unmanned aerial vehicle ever to fly on the planet.

According to AeroVironment, the Mars Helicopter is expected to fly on Mars in less than three years.

AeroVironment President and Chief Executive Officer Wahid Nawabi, commented: “AeroVironment’s deep, rich and diverse history of innovation combined with our experience with near-space aircraft like Pathfinder and Helios make us uniquely suited to collaborate with NASA and JPL on this historic, interplanetary venture.”

In a statement, AeroVironment wrote, that flying at nearly 100,000 feet on Earth is comparable to flying on Mars´ surface. The air density is the same, therefore AeroVironment used airfoil designs and simulation tools from previous high-altitude test and implemented the knowledge into the Mars helicopter project.

“The Mars Helicopter effort also benefits from the ultra-lightweight and ultra-high-precision methods integral to our nano projects that have been developed in our MacCready Works laboratory, where we’ve assembled a dedicated team of the industry’s brightest and most experienced thinkers to solve some of today’s greatest technological challenges,” Nawabi added.

The tech company already delivered a Mars helicopter rotor and a landing gear prototype to NASA/JPL back in May 2016.

Currently, AeroVironment is working on the final flight versions of the UAV. According to plans, JPL will install the finished Mars Helicopter into the Mars 2020 Rover for its ride to Mars. A specific date is yet to be determined.

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