Ricardo forms alliance to provide superior UAV heavy-fuel engine solutions

Press release
Release date: 1 June 2011

Ricardo, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Ricardo plc, today announced the formation of a strategic business alliance with XRD Inc. (XRDi) and NW UAV to design, develop and manufacture a family of heavy-fuel engine solutions for unmanned systems.

Branded Wolverine, the new engine line combines Ricardo’s engineering expertise with XRDi’s propriety combustion technology and NW UAV’s advanced manufacturing capabilities. The result is the industry’s most capable, dependable and flexible heavy-fuel engines available. “This partnership allows Ricardo to offer unmanned propulsion solutions from concept design to development, and prototype to production and support,” said Kent Niederhofer, president of Ricardo, Inc. “We are now in the unique position to offer a range of heavy-fuel engines, desperately needed for military and homeland security tactical unmanned systems.”

The Wolverine engine line ranges in size from three to more than 50 horsepower with the potential to significantly reduce the logistics footprint by utilizing many common parts. XRDi’s Mechanically Compressed Direct Injection (MCDI) system is a proprietary technology that allows two-stroke engines to run on multi-fuels, greatly improving the Wolverine engines fuel-efficiency, and has been tested in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Federal Aviation Regulation Part 33 (airworthiness standards, aircraft engines).

“XRDi views the alliance with Ricardo and NW UAV as an evolutionary step forward within the marketplace, a step that promises engineering solutions and superior products which are designed and manufactured in America,” said Forrest Bowen, president of XRDi.
The Wolverine engines, currently under consideration for several military programs, meet the U.S. Army’s “One Fuel Forward” initiative and will be manufactured by NW UAV, one of the largest UAV engine manufacturers in the United States.

“A robust series of heavy fuel engines is a tool our warfighters have asked for several decades,” said Chris Harris, President of NW UAV. “This alliance combines the skills needed to build fuel efficient, purpose-built engines, for the small engine market. NW UAV is excited to be part of this innovative teaming approach.”

“There’s no question that increased surveillance time in theater saves lives,” said Dr. Ron Storm, director of military business development at Ricardo. “This partnership brings together the industry’s predominate heavy-fuel engine leaders to provide immediate, market ready solutions to the unmanned systems industry.”

Ricardo is already accepting orders for the Wolverine engine and anticipates announcing its first order within weeks. Ricardo first launched the Wolverine family of engines in May 2010, with the unveiling of the Wolverine3, a 3.1 horsepower engine. Less than six months later, Ricardo announced the Wolverine3 successfully powered a small tactical UAV in October 2010 at the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Nevada National Security Site.

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