The Loughborough University Centre for Autonomous Systems (LUCAS) have spent a number of years working with an indoor rotary wing UAV test environment with little progress on outdoor testing. In recent weeks we've strapped an ArduPilot Mega to an old flying wing and have been very pleased with the results, so much so that we're now building up a dedicated Arduplane, the ArduWot.
The airframe is a Wot 4 Foam-E which comes ARTF, and when they say it's ready to go in 30 minutes they're not lying. All servos come pre-installed as does the motor and ESC. Tail surfaces slide into place and are retained by a single bolt. Wheels are pre-attatched to the legs which screw to the fuselage in seconds. The longest single task was changing the battery connector on the ESC for our preferred EC3.
The battery sits in a bay underneath the front fuselage (little blue hatch in photo below), leaving the centre fuselage pretty empty.
Our receiver is overkill for such a simple aircraft, so in reality there's more space than might first appear. The plan is to remove the foam block between the receiver and the servos and fit the APM here.
Some initial test flights today (without APM installed) showed the Wot 4 to be very easy to fly but also highly maneuverable. Most importantly for us is that it flies around nice and slowly (unlike the flying wings!) which lets us maximise the use of our relatively small test area. Tomorrow we shall be installing APM and doing plenty of test flights.
We are planning to build up a fleet of Arduplanes and Arducopters to conduct research activities such as collaboration, collision avoidance, target tracking, etc... I will keep this blog up to date with the latest developments!