Roadrunner, a Vertical Take-Off/landing Jet Drone Designed to Intercept and Destroy Aerial Threats

Tech start­up Anduril has devel­oped the Road­run­ner, a mod­u­lar ver­ti­cal take-off and land­ing jet drone. The com­pa­ny has also devel­oped a vari­ant called the Road­run­ner-Muni­tion or Roadrunner‑M, a “high explo­sive inter­cep­tor” that can car­ry a war­head and destroy air­borne threats.

The Road­run­ner drone can take off, pur­sue and destroy any air­borne tar­gets. If there is no need to inter­cept a tar­get, the drone can inde­pen­dent­ly maneu­ver and return back to base for refu­el­ing and reuse. As Anduril’s direc­tor, Chris Brose, said, “We’ve essen­tial­ly cre­at­ed a fight­er jet that lands like a Fal­con 9 rock­et.”

Accord­ing to Brose, the drone was cre­at­ed in response to the emer­gence of fast-mov­ing autonomous air­craft that can be pro­duced in large vol­umes and at very low cost, pos­ing a new type of threat. Unlike today’s oth­er solu­tions and the lega­cy mis­sile sys­tems that pre­ced­ed them, Roadrunner‑M is reusable.

“In my opin­ion, this is the first recov­er­able weapon that has ever been used,” Brose said. “The abil­i­ty to deploy it and reuse it if you haven’t used it in a mis­sion to kill anoth­er drone com­plete­ly changes how oper­a­tors can man­age its capa­bil­i­ties.”

Accord­ing to the com­pa­ny, there are sev­er­al oth­er impor­tant improve­ments over lega­cy sys­tems — faster launch and take-off times, three times the war­head pay­load, 10 times the effec­tive range and three times the maneu­ver­abil­i­ty under g‑forces.

Roadrunner‑M is con­trolled by Lat­tice, Anduril’s AI-pow­ered com­mand and con­trol soft­ware, or inte­grat­ed into exist­ing archi­tec­tures.

The advan­tage for the oper­a­tor: When faced with a fast-mov­ing threat, the Road­run­ner can imme­di­ate­ly launch, pho­to­graph it, and then be sig­naled whether to engage or not. Because the drone can be reused and repaired, oper­a­tors can oper­ate with­out fear of los­ing an expen­sive drone.

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