Anduril founder Palmer Luckey described the Roadrunner-M as a “kamikaze ship” during a conference call with journalists ahead of the system’s official unveiling.
Presentation of the Roadrunner – a new player on the aerial battlefield
The Roadrunner, a dual-jet autonomous aerial vehicle, has been unveiled by Anduril. This high-speed drone can take off and land vertically, maneuvering at subsonic speeds, according to the company’s press release.
The Roadrunner features a modular payload system that can accommodate a variety of upgradeable payloads to perform a wide range of missions. This system can also be continually updated to address future threats.
A variant of the Roadrunner, called Roadrunner-Munition (Roadrunner-M), has been designed as a high-explosive interceptor for air defense. Anduril founder Palmer Luckey described the Roadrunner-M as a “kamikaze ship” during a conference call with journalists ahead of the system’s official unveiling.
Uses and operations of the Roadrunner: the skies will no longer be the same
Roadrunner drones could have various uses, from the pursuit of high-speed, highly maneuverable enemy aircraft to operations at sea, on land or in the electronic field.
These UAS could be used to shoot down other unmanned aerial systems, although they would be more suitable for attacking larger drones, not small systems like quadcopters.
The Roadrunner could also be used to attack kamikaze drones such as the Iranian-made Shahed, which is being used in the Ukrainian conflict. However, the Roadrunner also has the ability to take on Group 4-5 drones and full-size aircraft.
The cost per aerial vehicle currently stands at a “few hundred thousand” dollars, but Anduril expects the price to drop once full-scale production begins.
Reusability and autonomy: the advantage of the Roadrunner
Roadrunner systems are reusable. If they do not carry out a kamikaze attack or are not destroyed, they can be recovered, refueled and relaunched. Some of Anduril ‘s platforms have already made dozens of flights during testing.
The company plans to increase the autonomous capabilities of its systems. According to Anduril Chief Strategy Officer Chris Brose, aerial systems must have more autonomy to operate against a high-volume threat.
The Roadrunner has onboard processing and sensors that allow it to find targets, calculate an optimal interception trajectory, and engage them. However, it can also be integrated with other fire control systems and sensors.
Roadrunner: the future of autonomous warfare?
Development of the Roadrunner began two years ago. Anduril already has a US customer for the system, although it has not been publicly identified.
Initial low-pace production of the Roadrunner will begin soon, with plans to quickly scale to thousands of units.
The exact technical details of the Roadrunner, such as its range, top speed and payload size, have not been revealed. However, Luckey claims it is capable of high-speed subsonic flight and high-gravity maneuvering to engage a wide range of targets.
The Roadrunner could be a solution for the Pentagon’s Replicator initiative, which seeks to deploy thousands of autonomous systems in less than two years.