Anduril introduces Roadrunner, “a fighter jet weapon that lands like a Falcon 9” – TechCrunch

Photo credit: Anduril

Leading defense technology startup Anduril has developed a new product designed to counter the proliferation of low-cost, high-performance aerial threats.

The product is called Roadrunner, a modular, twin-engine, autonomous, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft designed for low cost. Anduril has also developed a variant called Roadrunner ammunition or Roadrunner-M, a “high explosive interceptor” that can carry a warhead and also defensively destroy aerial threats.

Roadrunner is unusual in both his appearance and his abilities: he can launch, track, and destroy targets; When the target does not need to be intercepted, the vehicle can autonomously maneuver back to base for refueling and reuse. As Anduril’s chief strategy officer Chris Brose put it in a recent interview, “We’ve basically built a fighter jet weapon that lands like a Falcon 9.”

The product was developed in response to the rise of fast-moving, autonomous air forces that can be produced in large quantities and at very low cost, a new type of threat, Brose said. Unlike other current solutions and previous rocket systems, the Roadrunner-M can also be reused.

“In my opinion, this is the first recoverable weapon ever fielded,” Brose said. “That’s a pretty cool thing. The ability to deploy […] Restoring it and reusing it when you’re not actually using it in an operation to kill another drone completely changes the way operators can fight with this capability. Today they only have a limited number of interceptors, and if they decide to launch, they won’t get them back.”

Anduril says there are a handful of other key improvements over older systems: faster launch and launch times, three times greater warhead payload capacity, ten times greater effective range and three times greater G-force maneuverability. Like the rest of Anduril’s family of systems, Roadrunner-M can be controlled by Lattice, Andruil’s AI-powered command and control software, or integrated into existing architectures.

The other big advantage is for the operator: When Roadrunner is confronted with a fast-moving threat, he can immediately launch it, take a picture of it and then receive a signal whether to attack or not. Because the product is reusable and recoverable, operators can trade without fear of losing an expensive asset.

Brose said the company has been working in lockstep with an unnamed U.S. government partner since it began developing the Roadrunner about two years ago.

“[National defense] is often rightly stereotyped as simply being very cumbersome, very slow, very unimaginative and very unexciting,” said Brose. “I think as a company Anduril is the opposite of that and Roadrunner is the embodiment of the kind of excitement that we believe exists in national defense and we really want to try to bring it back.”