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Eagle Ray Design Challenge 2021

Endangered Snow Leopards are being hunted for their coats and body parts. Teams around the world are preparing to stop the onslaught of these majestic creatures with Eagle Ray, a blended wing body drone, that will soar the skies with intelligence, endurance, and agility.

Eagle Ray Design Challenge

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Most aircraft designs reflect the creativity and expertise of at most a few great engineers. At KwF, we look to the world for good ideas and great engineering. Our mission is to save endangered species from extinction, so we have reached out in the broadest sense for invention and innovation to meet our demanding mission capabilities.

For more than a decade, KwF has been operating aircraft around the world protecting endangered cats, rhinos, sea turtles, and many other species. We integrated airframes, power and propulsion systems to carry sensors, high performance computers, and special components needed to perform our missions. Operating on battery or liquid fuel, the aircraft met most of our mission needs.

But the mission that drove us to create KwF -- protecting the elusive snow leopards and other endangered species in the Himalayas -- eluded us with demands on flight performance that cannot be met by any existing aircraft. To support this mission, the aircraft must operate at very high altitude while close to ground below and to the sides as they navigate through extremely rocky terrain while encountering high and highly variable winds with snow, ice, and freezing rain. Remote from any conceivable operating base, and with needs to patrol over tens of thousands of square kilometers, the aircraft must be able to stay on station for days processing data, making decisions, and taking swift action when needed, all while barely making a sound.

Ready to face these challenges, KwF turned to Mark Page, creator of the modern blended wing body (BWB) aircraft design. We asked him to design a planform and airfoil stack for an aircraft with gross takeoff mass less than 25 kg (to comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations) that is efficient and agile while able to operate in high winds. Rooted in a long history of successful Mark Page designs, he provided a Baseline adjusted for the flight characteristics required for the KwF missions.

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