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Wingcopter Partners with UAVenture to Deliver Complete VTOL Solution

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Wingcopter, a German manufacturer of the fully autonomous Wingcopter tiltrotor VTOL and finalist in the 2017 Drones for Good competition, have partnered with UAVenture to deliver a complete UAS for professional applications with their commercial flight control platform, AirRails.

The Wingcopter is an universal all electric composite tiltrotor aircraft capable of carrying and operating a wide range of payloads. It’s ideal use-cases include search and rescue, monitoring, inspection, survey, mapping and delivery operations. Bundled together with the tablet based AirRails ground control station the Wingcopter is easy to use for operators and can be seamlessly integrated into any workflow.

The Wingcopter partnership with UAVenture has demonstrated how a specialist in developing and producing state-of-the-art VTOLs such as the Wingcopter Tiltrotor can quickly integrate the AirRails flight control platform for a market ready solution in only a few weeks. The AirRails platform goes beyond pure flight control and management but all integrates payloads and payload control, flight data management and 3rd party connectivity.

The result of our combined efforts can be seen at the Drones for Good competition in Dubai this year where Wingcopter completed successfully a complex search and rescue demonstration with 3 Wingcopters plus a unique VTOL acrobatic demonstration.

 

UAVenture and Flyingwings Release RTF Hybrid VTOL Evaluator

UAVenture has partnered with Flyingwings to develop the Falcon Vertigo, the first in a range of ready-to-fly hybrid vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) drones.

When ordered together with the AirRails flight control system the Vertigo will be pre-tuned and ready-to-fly providing evaluators with a fast track way of trialing hybrid VTOL technology and seeing how AirRails can bring hybrid VTOL solutions to their own customer base.

The Vertigo is a 1.3m (52”) flying wing electric VTOL and is capable of carrying a small payload such as a GoPro. The ready-to-fly version comes complete with quality electronics components pre-installed, including the autopilot hardware. When ordered together with AirRails it will be pre-flashed and tested.

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AirRails is an advanced multirotor and hybrid VTOL capable flight control system that excels in its ability to provide an extremely intuitive operator user interface making the operation of a complex technology as simple as a few taps on the tablet’s screen. Features such as 3D mission creation and tracking plus the sharing and distribution of missions to teams of operators make it an ideal team based professional solution.

The advanced flight control system takes care of performing fully automated take-offs and landings, regardless of wind direction, and completes your missions not only accurately but safely with a range of built in failsafe systems.

Flyingwings is the leading UK manufacturer of EPP wings and hybrid VTOLs offering both hobby products and autonomous drones for commercial mapping applications.

AirRails enables Fixed-Wing Acrobatics

After our Christmas experiment of getting the E-flite Convergence flying autonomous missions with AirRails we’ve now gone one step further and implemented a rate controlled acrobatics mode in fixed-wing. This allows you to fly the Convergence in the same 2 modes which the original flight controller provides (Stabilized and Acro). In Acro mode you benefit from unconstrained control over the aircraft but at the same time it will compensate external influences such as wind which gives you a truly flying on rails feeling!

If you manufacture a Tiltrotor (or any other form of VTOL aircraft) for commercial usage and are looking for a tested and reliable flight control platform we are eager to help you integrate AirRails into your vehicles! Please contact us for more information: info@uaventure.com

The acrobatics mode will soon be available in PX4 as well. Watch the following video for a short glimpse of what’s possible:

 

sUAS News Drone Stuff with Simon Wilks

Simon Wilks talks about hybrid VTOL in the latest Drone Stuff talk from sUAS News with Gary Mortimer. Watch the interview to get interesting insights into what we are doing and find out why AirRails is the best choice for VTOL manufacturers.

 

AirRails VTOL Autopilot – Safety by Design

Hybrid VTOLs (aka VTOLs) are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to start anywhere, like a multirotor, and fly far and fast like a fixed-wing. The interest in VTOLs is particularly high for tasks such as pipeline inspections, wide-area surveying/mapping and cargo together with the flexibility of being able to start or land practically anywhere.

The biggest concern that is usually raised about this type of drone is the efficiency hit that you take by having the extra weight and batteries needed to drive your vertical thrust system. This reduces flight time and payload capacity.

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VTOLs such as the ALTI Transition do still manage a very respectable 6+ hour flight time.

But there is another important aspect to hybrid VTOLs which we’ve been working on enhancing together with the AirRails flight control platform. And that is the increased level of safety that can be achieved by using its inherent redundancy capabilities.

Demonstration of Pusher/Puller Motor Loss, Airspeed Failure Detection and Stall Recovery
Let’s start with a short video demonstration that illustrates two not so uncommon failures that can occur.

In the first part of the following video we demonstrate the detection, in software, of a pusher/puller motor loss, which is not uncommon with fuel motors. In the second part we demonstrate how AirRails detects and recovers from an airspeed loss due to a pitot tube blockage and is able to continue the flight without.


In the second video we demonstrate how AirRails is able to detect and recover from a stall situation:


These are just a few of the detection and recovery techniques that are part of AirRails. Let’s take a look at the full array of failure types it can detect and recover from.

AirRails Failure Detection and Recovery
With AirRails, we have spent a lot of time taking advantage of the fact that while the VTOL is operating in fixed-wing mode you have a backup system: the multirotor component. Rather than treating it as dead weight, we decided to make it our onboard safety net.

Here are the types of failures AirRails can currently detect and recover from while in fixed-wing mode:

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Failures that result in a transition from fixed-wing to multirotor mode provide the system and the operator with a range of recovery options, ranging from attempting a transition back to fixed-wing flight, locating an emergency landing zone or returning home.

Multiple Safety Nets
With all of these failsafes in place, you end up with multiple layers of checks which could trigger during a particular failure event. This significantly increases the chance of recovering from a failure. In fact, it works so well we had a hard time triggering our desired failure mode as the other checks kept jumping in.

There are three layers of checks in place, where each will trigger if the previous one does not:

  1. Continuous sensor and flight attitude checks
  2. Conditional checks based on the current situation
  3. Absolute limits as a last measure

If we apply this to the airspeed sensing failure example above, the sequence of checks that will occur will be:

 

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In the second layer there is a window of opportunity to failover from the airspeed sensing failure and continue the flight or return home in a relatively safe and efficient manner. Should this not trigger in time then one of the next layers will trigger a transition into multirotor mode.

Minimising Risk during Takeoff and Landing?
During the takeoff, landing and a portion of the transitions into and out of fixed-wing we will be back in a partial or full multirotor mode. A failure in this mode without a redundant configuration will result in failure. The risk area in this case is quite limited and can easily be planned to take place in a safe location, limiting potential damage to people and property.

Let AirRails bring your VTOL System to the next Level
Contact us to find out how the AirRails flight control platform can make your hybrid VTOL system even safer.

The Tiltrotors are coming!

For more than 2 years we have been focussing on hybrid VTOL, supporting all kinds of VTOL systems from Quadplanes to Tailsitters to Tiltrotors. It is amazing how many variations of those main types manufacturers develop for both commercial hobby use. Often they are complex to handle (mechanically and aerodynamically). Our AirRails Flight Control Platform hides all this under the hood giving the operator a simple to use interface.

As a “holiday experiment” and to show the versatility of AirRails we’ve converted the recently released E-flite Convergence from a manual flying machine into a fully autonomous UAV.

Our team actively contributes back to the open-source autopilot community therefore you can find all the DIY information to make your Convergence fly with PX4 here: http://px4.io/portfolio/e-flite-convergence/

If you manufacture a Tiltrotor (or any other form of VTOL aircraft) for commercial usage and are looking for a tested and reliable flight control platform we are eager to help you integrate AirRails into your vehicles! Please contact us for more information: info@uaventure.com

PX4 Driver for the Aerotenna uLanding Radar Distance Sensor

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At UAVenture we’ve been using the uLanding Lite from Aerotenna for a few months now as part of our crop spraying development work. The uLanding is a lightweight (60g), sealed radar based distance sensor with about 30m range and a fast 500Hz update rate making it ideal for low altitude terrain following and of course accurate autonomous landings.

Using a radar based distance sensor with a sealed case means that you will not be susceptible to bad distance readings caused by airborne mist from the spray system between the laser and the surface or, worse still, on the laser lenses.

The driver, written by Roman Bapst, has just been submitted to master on PX4‘s github repository and should make it into the next release. Please see the Developer Guide for how to use it.

Here’s a short video of one of our early crop following tests with the uLanding mounted on the Iris.

 

The Stall Resistant Drone?

In the second video from our demo series we take a look stall recovery. This is one of several safety systems built into AirRails which makes a hybrid VTOL resistant to stall related failures. During extensive testing this has already saved our UAV a number of times as we’ve pushed the UAV beyond its limits in both mission and manual test flights.

In this video, filmed both onboard and from the ground, you can see how the UAV is forced into a stall by slowing down and pulling up on the stick. Airspeed drops to a critical level and roll and pitch exceed operational limits. This results in an automatic fast switch back to a multirotor hover without intervention from the pilot. From this point on the operator has the option to resume the mission or recover the UAV.

AirRails is also able to monitor other failures in real-time, airspeed sensor degradation and failures, pitot tube blockage, pusher motor failure and free-fall detection and switch to a hover mode faster than a pilot can react.

Contact us to find out how AirRails can make your hybrid VTOL product safer.

Rock Solid VTOL Transitions

 

In the first of a series demo videos we show how AirRails performs smooth transitions. An optimal cooperation between fixed-wing and multirotor modes are essential in maintaining reliable, efficient and safe transition into and back out of fixed-wing flight.

While airspeed is an important factor for effective transitions, AirRails can also excel with VTOLs without airspeed sensing or that have suffered and airspeed failure inflight.

Contact us to find out how AirRails can bring out the best in your hybrid VTOL product.

UAVenture Announces Advanced Autopilot System for Hybrid VTOL UAVs.

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We are proud to announce the release of a commercial autopilot system which provides manufacturers, solution providers and service providers with a comprehensive solution for their Hybrid VTOL products.

Packed with a range of safety features specifically designed for hybrid UAVs providing you with a extra level of reliability over its pure fixed-wing relatives.

Combine our flight control and management software with your UAV for the ultimate VTOL experience.