Northrop Grumman Corp. in San Diego  and Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A., said Thursday they will jointly develop and market a small, unmanned helicopter for commercial applications.

Called the Rotary Bat, or R-Bat, the new helicopter would combine a proven airframe produced by Yamaha, with Northrup Grumman’s latest autonomous control and intelligence-gathering technologies for use in search and rescue, power line inspection and forest fire observation.

Rendering of Rotary Bat unmanned commercial helicopter planned by Northrup Grumman and Yamaha Motor. Image courtesy Northrup Grumman

“The R-Bat joins our existing Bat family of unmanned aircraft systems used for tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions,” said George Vardoulakis, vice president for medium range tactical systems at Northrop Grumman. “Yamaha Motor’s lineage of reliable products speaks to the strength of R-Bat as a new member of our proven unmanned system portfolio.”

The R-Bat is based on the Yamaha Motor RMAX remotely-piloted unmanned helicopter that is currently used for industrial and farming applications in Japan.

“Yamaha Motor has produced remotely-piloted unmanned helicopters for over 25 years,” said Toshizumi Kato, president, Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A. “Northrop Grumman’s merging of our efficient and affordable aircraft with their expertise in autonomous control systems will deliver a unique capability to their Bat UAS portfolio.”

Northrop Grumman also produces the giant Global Hawk and related unmanned aircraft for the U.S. military

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.