News

AirRails adds Vision Based Obstacle Avoidance for Crop Sprayers

UAVenture has partnered with SUIND to bring an advanced computer vision based obstacle avoidance system to AirRails and drone manufacturers. SUIND’s system will become a core part of the AirRails autopilot and will bring crop spraying and seeding operations to the next level, while reducing the effort on the part of the owner/operator.


SUIND’s vision system has been integrated into the AirRails autopilot during 2020, to bring the power of computer vision technology to the crop spraying industry, allowing drones to autonomously detect and avoid obstacles during a spraying mission. In addition, it also provides centimeter-level precision independent of GPS, significantly increasing accuracy, reducing drift and providing resilience to GPS failures and glitches.

More importantly, the system has been developed and tested to be able to operate at the speeds required by typical crop spraying missions, and not at the snail pace that a lot of experimental systems run at.

Having an industry-level vision system onboard brings the operation of crop sprayers and seeding drones a number of advantages, including:

  • Detection of trees, poles and other obstacles that appear along or near the mission path
  • Dynamic route planning which is continuously updated to provide the autopilot with millisecond avoidance guidance to navigate the drone around the obstacle and back onto the flight plan
  • Extremely simple planning, with only the region to be sprayed that needs to be set and no longer having to mark the location of obstacles
  • Spraying operations where manual planning around a high number of obstacles is not practical or possible, such as shade trees on tea plantations
  • Efficient coverage and increased safety by avoiding the inaccuracy of manual GPS based geo-referencing of obstacles

Trials will shift to 10 liter capacity crop sprayers in September with the first beta testing phase in Asia starting early Q4, 2020.  We will also soon be announcing ready-to-fly vision enabled crop spraying drones which will be presented by a “first-adopter” manufacturer in October, 2020.

For more information about how AirRails can power your crop spraying / seeding drones: uaventure.com/agriculture

To learn more about SUIND: suind.com

Aeroseeder – An AirRails Powered S(p)eed Machine

Aeroseeder is one of the early adopters of UAVenture’s AirRails autopilot which enables their drone to fully autonomously distribute environmentally friendly cover crop seeds accurately and efficiently with their unique drone design.

Aeroseeder will soon be making complete ready-to-fly systems, capable of delivering 40 lbs / 18 Kg of seed per flight, available to farmers and service providers in the USA and beyond.

Cover crops are a key soil health practice that reduces water runoff from fields which significantly reduces the risk of polluting waterways. The adoption of cover crops has expanded rapidly to 15.5 million acres in 2018. Since the seeding process usually happens once the main crop has matured, aerial distribution is the most effective method.

Thanks to the highly intuitive flight planning with the AirRails Ground Control Station makes planning flights a trivial task. Seeding operations with the Aeroseeder are as simple as: connecting batteries; filling the hopper with seed; uploading the flight plan, starting the seeding mission and standing back to watch the drone do all the work as the autopilot guides the drone in a predefined pattern over the crop. The AirRails autopilot takes care of regulating the dispersal rate of seed based on speed and location. At the end of the flight, seeding coverage data and flight logs are automatically uploaded to the cloud.

AirRails for Agriculture
Over the last two years UAVenture has been developing its AirRails autopilot system for manufacturers of crop spraying and seeding drones. AirRails provides the manufacturer with a fully autonomous system with all the features required to spray steep tree ridden tea plantations in Sri Lanka to cover crop seeding on large flat farmland in the heartlands of the USA.

Looking for an autopilot system for your crop sprayer or seeding drone? Contact us for more information or download a brochure from our website http://uaventure.com/agriculture

Aeroseeder
For more information about the Aeroseeder drone visit their website http://aeroseeder.com

UAVenture’s AirRails Adds Support for Helicopters

The AirRails flight control platform now supports helicopters and helicopter “hybrid” drones.

The first cooperation has been for a 20kg and 100kg drone that merge the best of gyrocopter and helicopter technology into a single system for a fully autonomous, vertical takeoff and landing capable drone in helicopter mode and an efficient forward flight in an autorotating gyrocopter mode. They are capable of operating throughout the entire speed range from 0 km/h to more than 150km/h.

The high quality modular design allows for simple switching of a range of light to heavy payloads with an impressive endurance in both hover and forward “autorotation” flight.

UAVenture has been heavily involved in the project from in inception, through the design and prototyping phases and on towards production readiness early 2020, once again demonstrating our strength in embedding ourselves deep in the manufacturing team to bring out the best all round product possible.

AirRails Powering Six BVLOS Applications

The AirRails autopilot has been at the heart of a diverse range of BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line Of Sight) achievements this year as Wingcopter and their customers continue to push this technology into exciting and challenging environments and use-cases. Here is an overview of six companies and organisations who have been very successful.

Skytango

The most recent milestone was an insulin delivery service in Ireland, demonstrating the use of the AirRails powered Wingcopter operating BVLOS in the EU. The article published by Skytango & partners describes the journey the team went through in reaching their goal.


Read more on Skytango’s Website

Arctic UAS – Whale Surveying in the Arctic

Another unique BVLOS success story was the surveying of whales in the arctic waters by Arctic UAV, made even more challenging by the technical challenges and extreme temperatures.


Read more on SUAS News

Medical Deliveries in Malawi, Vanuatu and Tanzania

AirRails continues to power Wingcopter BVLOS medical deliveries in Malawi (Forbes article) in addition to successful operations in Vanuatu (SUAS News article) and Tanzania (Bloomberg article).


Read more about Malawi on Forbes


Read more about Vanuatu on SUAS News


Read more about Tanzania on Bloomberg

KVS Technologies – Power Line Inspections

The Wingcopter is not only excelling in humanitarian missions but has also been used by KVS Technologies, flying fully autonomous BVLOS high-voltage power line inspection missions.


Read more on LinkedIn and DNB Nyheter


Congratulations to all the companies, organisations and Wingcopter for these great achievements. We are very proud to be a part of their success stories showing how challenging BVLOS operations becoming a reality. 

Want to find out more about how we can help you join the BVLOS club? Contact us at info@uaventure.com

Daedalean and UAVenture prepare to launch a new vision-based guidance system to the market

In February 2018 two companies from Zurich – Daedalean, the developer of an AI autopilot for autonomous flight, and UAVenture, which produces advanced flight control software and related systems for UAVs – announced a partnership: Daedalean would add computer vision and vision-based functions to UAVenture’s autopilot. The collaborative product was named Magpie.

For Daedalean it would provide engineering validation for its concept; Magpie is an entry-level system in a product line ultimately aiming to guide and control classical rotor and fixed-wing aircraft, and the eVTOLs of the near future with a certified AI autopilot. It is the ideal demonstrator of the safety-certifiable neural networks that process visual data, enabling the features that nowadays require the human pilot’s eyes and visual cortex.

And for UAVenture it would promise an unrivaled enhancement of its already very advanced AirRails, the flight controller that autonomously manages every aspect of a UAV mission. AirRails relies on laser- and radar-based distance sensors for accurate landing or terrain following – the addition of vision sensors would make it the winning solution for drones in any flight conditions. And now, after 18 months of intensive development, exhaustive flight testing with gradual downsizing of hardware, selective picking of the hardware suppliers and gathering terabytes of data, the two companies are in the pole position to launch Magpie to the market.

The two main features of the announced product are:
● Real-time vision-based detection of suitable emergency landing locations
● Vision-based navigation and attitude estimation in GPS denied/degraded scenarios.

The system consists of a single camera and mission computer, weighs less than 500g, and consumes less than 15W under nominal conditions. It comes fully integrated with the AirRails flight control computer, allowing end-users to deploy Magpie out-of-the-box without complex integration and APIs.

“Safety first! Continuous advisory of landing spots during the flight that AirRails gets from Magpie is what makes any UAV mission finally safe for BVLOS in any environment,” – says Simon Wilks, co-founder &
CEO of UAVenture.

“And the ability to sustain flight when the GPS signal is lost, jammed or spoofed, makes the Magpie-AirRails joint functionality unique on the market. I believe our customers will be eager to get the new system.”

“Magpie is going to be our first widely used product demonstrating the feasibility of autonomous flight control based on neural networks. This launch is an important milestone for Daedalean on its way to a certified
autopilot for personal electric aircraft,” – adds Luuk van Dijk, founder & CEO of Daedalean.

Wingcopter medicine delivery in Vanuatu takes the next step

The first stage of the UNICEF supported project in Vanuatu to supply vaccines for children in remote areas was successful. Wingcopter received one of the worlds first commercial drone delivery contracts. We’re excited to be able to support this effort with AirRails’ advanced safety features for BVLOS deliveries.

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Jetoptera demonstrates hovering with Fluidic Propulsion System™

Jetoptera has successfully demonstrated hovering of an aircraft equipped with our Fluidic Propulsion System™ (FPS). The tethered tests of vertical takeoff and hovering were done using our 50 kg (110 lbs) platform. The tethering system is a precautionary approach commonly employed in VTOL development. Data recorded so far show excellent behavior of FPS in VTOL position with production of stable, repeatable and reliable thrust, now with vectoring capabilities. With these tests Jetoptera has demonstrated a novel and simple swiveling joint system designed for enhancing maneuverability of the aircraft in transitions and in hovering. The vectoring of the FPS demonstrated good yaw authority for the test platform, in addition to performing the main function of propulsion for both vertical and wing borne flight. A same size FPS has been effectively demonstrated on a flight test bed over the summer in wing-borne configuration. In the current campaign Jetoptera is collaborating with our partners ComQuest Ventures (adapting their Typhon simulator) and UAVenture (adapting their AirRails software).

DHL – Rapid response from the air: medicines successfully delivered using a parcel drone in East Africa

We’re excited about our long-time customer’s latest achievement!

Three experts in their respective fields are making it happen: The German drone manufacturer Wingcopter, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and DHL. Over a six-month period, they successfully tested the delivery of medicines using a drone to an island in Lake Victoria. During the trials, the autonomous DHL Parcelcopter 4.0 completed the 60 km flight from the mainland to the island in 40 minutes on average. A total of 2,200 km were flown and roughly 2,000 flight minutes recorded during the pilot project.

The drone thus opens up new opportunities to address the logistic challenges in the public health sector in many parts of Africa, especially supplying hospitals and pharmacies. Medical care for the roughly 400,000 residents of the Ukerewe island district of Lake Victoria, for instance, is severely limited. This is partly due to the poor infrastructure and difficult terrain.

It takes six hours to cover the overland route of 240 km. That makes it nearly impossible to provide emergency medication or to quickly refill cool chain commodities that are out of stock.

A key feature is that the DHL Parcelcopter 4.0 barely needs any infrastructure as it takes off and lands vertically. After delivering its cargo, it can easily be loaded with blood and laboratory samples to take back to the mainland. In future, the Parcelcopter could therefore not only improve logistics in the public health sector: it has the potential to help prevent crises worldwide, for example allowing an early response to slow the spread of viral diseases like Ebola.

GE Aviation and Jetoptera join forces on Fluidic Propulsion System technology demonstrator

GE H Series EEPC engine model EEC front

Jetoptera and GE Aviation have agreed to jointly demonstrate a 500-pound-force (lbf) class Fluidic Propulsion System TM leveraging a gas generator based on GE Aviation’s H-Series turboprop engine. This is the first step towards a fully customized gas generator which will lead to a Jetoptera 500 VTOL full flight demonstrator.

Jetoptera’s revolutionary Fluidic Propulsion System is a remarkably simple approach to producing thrust for powerful, VTOL-capable aircraft. A gas generator produces the pressurized fluid which is distributed to specially designed thrusters, the most direct way of producing thrust. The technology augments thrust via massive entrainment of ambient air. Thrusters can be shaped and distributed around an airframe in ways to maximize lift augmentation and distribute propulsion at the same time. Thrusters can also be easily swiveled, allowing for VTOL operations. The result is a high speed, compact system that can naturally hover.

“This is a unique opportunity for GE to participate in the burgeoning development of the urban air mobility, while still infusing new technologies on our H-Series workhorse,” said Michele D`Ercole, President and Managing Executive of GE Aviation Czech, Business and General Aviation Turboprops.

“We are excited to join forces with GE Aviation, the world’s leading producer of aircraft engines, to develop optimized versions of gas generators for our Fluidic Propulsion System,” said Denis Dancanet, Jetoptera CEO. “They will be used to power mid-size to larger aircraft in our product lineup.”

“After recently demonstrating the wing-borne fluidic propulsion capabilities on a 100 lbf class platform this summer, the next demonstration of a 500 lbf class platform will validate our roadmap to introducing unmanned and manned aircraft of quite unique capabilities,” said Andrei Evulet, Jetoptera CTO.

The H-Series gas generator brings simple architecture, thermodynamic efficiency and reliability to Jetoptera’s innovative VTOL demonstrator. Ranging from 550 to 850 standard horsepower (410 – 633 kW), H-Series turboprops incorporate GE’s 3-D aerodynamic design techniques and advanced materials to create a powerful, fuel-efficient, durable engine.

GE Aviation is investing more than $400 million in its turboprop program in Europe, including its Turboprop headquarters in Prague, where the H-Series is manufactured, and the all-new Catalyst engine is being developed and tested.