Uncrewed Systems Technology 043 l Auve Tech Iseauto taxi l Charging focus l Advanced Navigation Hydrus l UGVs insight l MVVS 116 l Windracers ULTRA l CES 2022 show report l ECUs focus I Distant Imagery

78 B uilding on the history and tradition of aviation innovation in the UK for the 21st century, Windracers and Distributed Avionics (DA) have developed one of the world’s largest and most capable civil UAVs, the ULTRA (Unmanned Low-cost TRansport Aircraft). It is designed to carry large cargo loads over long distances, and has undergone extensive proving flights in the UK, to locations including the Isle of Wight, the Shetlands, Orkneys and the Scilly Isles (see sidebar). The flights have taken place in challenging weather conditions that are typical of UK maritime areas, with strong, turbulent winds, rain and poor visibility, while operating from rough airstrips. The ULTRA also uses one of the world’s most sophisticated and robust flight control systems. History The ULTRA was developed by a team at Southampton University in response to an approach from two entrepreneurs and philanthropists, Stephen Wright and Charles Scales. Their vision was to develop a robust and cost-effective UAV capable of addressing severe logistics challenges including problems associated with drought and famine relief in regions of the world such as South Sudan, and delivering essential cargo to the people and communities that need it the most. Three overarching requirements were laid down in the early stages of the design process. The first was to ensure that the platform’s development was consistent with clear economic objectives. In other words, the platform had to offer compelling operational cost advantages compared with existing benchmark alternatives such as single- pilot Part 23 aircraft. The second was to ensure that the design was extremely robust. It goes without saying that a cargo platform operating in somewhere such as South Sudan will typically be required to Professor James Scanlan explains the design thinking that went into developing this heavy-lift UAV, and how its safe operation and robustness were proven Special delivery April/May 2022 | Unmanned Systems Technology The Windracers ULTRA is designed to carry large cargo loads over long distances