DeltaQuad VTOL completes 100KM autonomous mission carrying a 1KG payload

This Saturday at DronesLab we achieved an important milestone in the final steps towards the public release of the DeltaQuad: A 100KM autonomous mission carrying a 1KG payload. This marks the achievement of the most important goal we have set when we started the development of this vehicle over a year ago.

The DeltaQuad is an electric VTOL flying wing capable of fully autonomous operation. It is driven by either the PX4 or AirRails flightstack in combination with proprietary safety and performance software. It is controlled through a tablet and streams telemetry (and optionally video) over an encrypted VPN using the cellular network. Most notably it flies without the need for an airspeed sensor. This improves reliability, usability and performance.

After extensive testing and hundreds of flight hours we knew it could achieve this goal in theory. But as with any theory it needed to withstand the test of reality. So we we started preparing for a mission that would do just that.

The mission

The mission was flown in a square pattern. It was setup to autonomously take off vertically to an altitude of 22m, complete 20 laps on a 5km circuit at an altitude of 30m, and land vertically near it's takeoff point. It cruised at approximately 15m/s. The mission took 1 hour and 50 minutes to complete. It was outfitted with a 23Ah 4s lipo and consumed 20.7A of which 19.3 was used for fixed wing flight and 1.4 for vertical takeoff and land.

The payload consisted of a 1KG box filled with dummy weight. The total distance was confirmed through a KML export of the mission loaded in google earth as you can see in the image above. 

The full log of the mission can be found here:

Whats next

The DeltaQuad will be publicly available this summer under a new label that we will soon announce together with the full specs and pricing. Additional options and modules will be released shortly after that. Although we can not yet release any more details we are confident that it will be one of the most reliable, scalable and affordable VTOL UAV's that is suitable for commercial applications.

** Update **

The DeltaQuad has been publicly released. Visit to find out all the details.

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Comment by sander on April 30, 2017 at 7:13am

@Rob, it tries to maintain a sensible airspeed throughout the flight irrespective of either up or down wind so you will see the velocity change linear to the wind speed. We rate the DeltaQuad safe for flight in winds up to 23Kph with max 30Kph gusts. We have flown it in 28Kph constant / 40Kph gust where it did not fail but we would not recommend those conditions with payload.

The onboard software uses it's internet connection to verify weather conditions and can be configured to ground the vehicle when the conditions are deemed unsafe. As i mentioned in my earlier comment we are currently finalizing a new version that will automatically tune the vehicle to the conditions at hand. 

Comment by Cala on April 30, 2017 at 9:32am

Thank´s Sander.

Comment by Darrell Burkey on April 30, 2017 at 7:13pm

Congrats Sander! Your build looks fantastic and very high quality. I'm only days away from doing my first test flight on an X8 quadplane myself. I'll be placing a build log on ArduPilot blog in about a week if interested. I'm confident you will do extremely well with this. X8 is a very popular plane and being able to convert is to VTOL will be a real winner. Keep up the great work.

Comment by Pablo Legarreta on May 2, 2017 at 7:01am

Great achievement! Is this a X8 airframe? Can you share some specs about the motors and props used for VTOL and straight flight engine? Thank you.

Comment by Hamish on May 2, 2017 at 10:52am

Could you do me a massive favour, and repeat the test but without the quad motors or booms? Simply the clean airframe with same battery and payload? I would love to see the difference made by the additional drag and weight caused by the VTOL capability. Cheers!

Comment by sander on May 3, 2017 at 1:36am

@Pablo the airframe is indeed based on a customized version of the Skywalker X8. We will also be releasing a conversion kit for this airframe. The motors are custom made for the DeltaQuad.


The flight cannot be repeated without vtol modules on the same drive. The reasons for this are;

- The pusher motor has been selected for endurance, not power. The motor would not be capable of getting the airframe to the required speed by hand launching.

- The MTOW of the plane as a regular X8 would be exceeded. The plane would most likely not survive a FW landing at the weight loaded even without VTOL modules 

- The vehicle is completely customized for the VTOL modules, the wingjoiners contain high quality amphenol blind mating connectors that only allow attachment of the VTOL modules, it does not support attachment of the wing directly.

Based on our early prototype testing we did not see a significant loss in efficiency. Our 100k flight shows this as it ranks among the longest flights achievable by the X8 considering our 1kg payload could be swapped for an additional lipo that would extend the range by +- 50% while still allowing for a lightweight camera like a gopro to be carried. The reason we notice no significant change is likely due to the fact that the added weight is compensated by the added lift from the extended wingspan. The modules have been optimized to minimize drag.

Comment by Pascal Fust on May 15, 2017 at 1:07am

Indeed, great performance for that "bulky" X8 airfoil ;-) I'm highly interested in the "official" version of that A/C and it's performance - keep me updated.

Btw.: what's the landing radar log? Are you using radar sensor for height measurements? 

Comment by sander on May 15, 2017 at 2:33am

Hi Pascal,

The landing radar log is just how the FC estimator calculates the ground distance.

For this mission no range finder was needed / used.

Comment by Yaokun on August 16, 2017 at 8:10pm

Hi sander

How can I learn about your latest progress and the new label you said?

Very intersted! Hope to buy this first time.

Comment by sander on August 17, 2017 at 1:00am

@Yaokun We will announcing something VERY shortly, i'm talking days.
@Pascal Fust The information you posted actually is the DeltaQuad and it seems one of our partners has been a little premature with publishing this, i removed your comment as not to spoil the surprise for everyone :)


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