Monday, February 26, 2024

Anduril unveils jet-powered, autonomous drones to combat aerial threats

Leading defense tech startup Anduril has unveiled an autonomous jet-powered drone called Roadrunner, designed to serve as an interceptor of aerial threats ranging from large drones to manned aircraft.

With the growing accessibility of military-grade drones to terrorist groups, it has become crucial to find innovative solutions to counter this threat. Anduril has introduced a paradigm shift in the defense industry by offering a unique solution to combat the danger of drones.

Anduril’s Roadrunner is a modular, twin-jet-powered autonomous vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) air vehicle with extraordinary performance at low cost. The company has also developed a variant called Roadrunner-Munition (Roadrunner-M), which is a “high-explosive interceptor.” This innovative technology enables the vehicle to carry a warhead and destroy aerial threats defensively.

Roadrunner’s autonomous air vehicle is powered by twin jets and is modular in design. Vertical takeoff and landing capability gives Roadrunner the flexibility to rapidly launch from and return to any location, pairing high subsonic speed with exceptional agility and stability. The modular payload system can carry different payloads to accomplish various missions and can be updated to meet future threats.

Anduril’s Roadrunner-M variant is designed to rapidly identify, intercept, and destroy aerial threats that are up to 100 times more expensive. It can also be recovered and reused at almost zero cost. It is built to address threats that extend across legacy air defense echelons, thereby combating adversary attempts to design around gaps in current air defense architectures.

Similar to traditional approaches, Roadrunner-M can take off, follow, and intercept distant targets at the first hint of danger, giving operators more information and time to assess the target and rules of engagement. If there is no need to destroy the target, Roadrunner-M can simply return to base and land at a pre-designated location for immediate refueling and reuse.

One of the key advantages of the Roadrunner-M is its ability to be reused after launch, increasing redundancy for a higher probability of lethality and enhancing the ability to simultaneously engage many targets.

With three times the warhead payload capacity and ten times the one-way effective range of similar offerings on the market, Roadrunner-M’s performance capacity is far superior to that of competing air defense solutions. The system’s faster launch and takeoff timing, along with its exceptional maneuverability in G force, make it a true overmatch capability against current and emerging threats.

A single operator can launch and supervise multiple Roadrunner or Roadrunner-M squadrons. Roadrunner-M can be controlled by Lattice, Anduril’s AI-powered software suite for command and control, or be fully integrated into existing air defense radars, sensors, and architectures to provide immediately deployable capability.

The company’s been working in lock-step with an unnamed U.S. government partner since it started designing Roadrunner around two years ago.