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Companies partner for UAV engines

VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP, Mich., June 2 (UPI) -- Three U.S. companies have joined efforts to design, develop and manufacture heavy-fuel engines for unmanned aerial vehicles.

The three companies are Michigan's Ricardo, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Ricardo plc; XRD Inc. of South Carolina; and NW UAV of Oregon.

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Branded Wolverine, the new engine line combines Ricardo's engineering expertise with XRDi's propriety combustion technology and NW UAV's advanced manufacturing capabilities.

"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.

XRDi's Mechanically Compressed Direct Injection system is a proprietary technology that allows two-stroke engines to run on multi-fuels, 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). Ricardo said in a news release.

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.

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"A robust series of heavy-fuel engines is a tool our warfighters have needed for several decades," said NW UAV President Chris Harris. "This alliance combines the skills needed to build fuel efficient, purpose-built engines, for the small engine market."

Ricardo said it is accepting orders for the Wolverine engine and anticipates announcing its first order within the next several weeks.

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