Californian aerospace start-up Exosonic has successfully trialled their EX-3M “Trident” autonomous test aircraft after a speedy nine-month development cycle.
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The high-speed developmental unmanned aerial system test aircraft completed a series of ground taxi tests at the New Cuyama UAS test range in the California high desert near Santa Barbara.
The tests were performed to verify taxi and take-off characteristics before an upcoming series of planned summer 2023 flights to validate vehicle performance and autonomous capabilities.
Exosonic chief technology officer and co-founder Timothy MacDonald, PhD, said as the company completes the flight test program, it will explore commercial opportunities to leverage the EX-3M as an autonomy testbed or as a research vehicle to demonstrate USAF critical capabilities.
“An excellent beginning to a comprehensive testing program. We were able to put our aircraft through its paces out in the field and gather some great results.
“The data will now be analysed, and we’ll move to further ground testing and flight testing.”
The Trident will serve as a quarter scale testbed to validate the autonomy software that will ultimately be incorporated into Exosonic’s EX-3 “Revenant” full-scale supersonic UAV.
The EX-3 supersonic fifth-generation aerial target UAS is being designed under a US$1.250 million Small Business Innovation Research contract with the USAF. In addition to the aerial target role, a modified EX-3 version will be assessed to serve in the adversary air role.
Exosonic chief executive officer and co-founder Norris Tie said Exosonic has raised around US$4 million in private capital and US$3 million in AFWERX funding.
“I’m extremely proud of the team for getting the Trident vehicle designed, assembled, and into the test program in only nine months,” he said.
“They worked tirelessly over the past several weeks to reach this point.”