ATMOS, a VTOL plane with autonomous transitioning from vertical to horizontal

I'm not quite sure that they're right that this is the first autonomous transition from vertical to horizontal flight (there are some others that do that already, including Quadshot, although I suppose they could argue that it's more of a copter than a plane, or maybe not a full UAV?), but impressive all the same. 

From Hackaday:

 [Team ATMOS] from Tu Delft University in the Netherlands, has developed a UAV that can autonomously transition from quadcopter flight to that of a fixed-wing aircraft. Although the world has seen several successful examples of transitioning-flight or VTOL aircraft, team [ATMOS] claims to have made the first autonomous transition of this type of craft.

This UAV was featured in their school newspaper, which provides a write-up about the work that went into creating this hybrid UAV. When you’re done with that, be sure to check out the two videos after the break. The first shows the [ATMOS] taking off vertically and flying off as a flying-wing fixed aircraft. The second video shows this and other UAVs in the [DARPA] competition that it was designed for. Fast forward to 2:24 to see this aircraft do a fly-by.

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Comment by Dave Wicks on September 4, 2012 at 12:11pm
Speaking of Quadshot, I just received my Mocha today, just waiting to get off work so I can get her up in the air. It's been over a year since I paid for it so hopefully it doesn't disappoint.
Comment by Piotr Esden-Tempski on September 4, 2012 at 1:51pm

We sponsored ATMOS with an early prototype of the Quadshot. They based their design on it and optimised it for the requirements of the competition. It is also based on Paparazzi as Quadshot is.

Comment by arashi on September 4, 2012 at 1:57pm

The ATMOS team was using a modified Quadshot controller and the Paparazzi GCS.

I witnessed the Quadshot team at Defcon 2011 doing transitions, but under RC control.  Maybe the key is "autonomous" transition.

ATMOS probably would have come closest to winning the competition if their esc didn't die on them on their last run.  I do not believe they had the battery power to last the entire 3 hour perch and fly back though.

Comment by Piotr Esden-Tempski on September 4, 2012 at 2:05pm

@arashi not exactly they developed their controller at the end separately as they were going for full autonomity and less the funflying side of things as the Quadshot. They are actually flying fully autonomous. The whole mission on UAVForge they did was done in fully autonomous mode including takeoff.

Yes it was a bummer that one of their ESC's died in the approach for landing. :(

We are working together with the ATMOS team on integrating both the Quadshot control code and the autonomous code with the newest Paparazzi code to get both sides together.

Comment by Me109 on September 4, 2012 at 9:40pm

@Chris: You are the expert. They say fully autonomous. What more is required to be as you say "full UAV"? Is this something APM is doing now? PX4? Your comments are not clear. Do you know something and are not sharing? 

Comment by Murray Spoelstra on September 5, 2012 at 2:43am

I think the main problem with the design is that it doesn't do well for flights in significant wind.

Comment by Dave Wicks on September 5, 2012 at 8:16am
@Murray, correct me if I'm wrong here Piotr but I remember your team had very favorable results under heavy wind conditions, then again your prop setup was different then this one.
Comment by Me109 on September 5, 2012 at 8:57am

This Paparazzi project appears very advanced. Considering all the information on the Web about Paparazzi winning competitions I see so little here about it. Thank you Chris for sharing this with us. 

Comment by Murray Spoelstra on September 5, 2012 at 10:50am

@Dave, you might be thinking about another team. For UAVForge we quickly put together a Octa-V with lifting body in the center and tilted motors. The transition from vertical to forward flight therefore required less of an angle change. It did handle winds well, but unfortunately there was that yaw problem with Arducopter 2.4( If I remember correctly) and during one test flight in high winds it kept yawing until it went out of range and crashed. Been building various other configs since. There was also a mixup in our flight demo and very few people saw the proof of flights posted on youtube. The links are here: http://youtu.be/z_ASzhw9s2g and http://youtu.be/Pgo5cLVPwt0

Still, well done to Atmos for getting it working. Especially the custom video encoding they did through cellular network.


I've been wondering about building a smaller electric version of Aerovel's flexrotor. Anyone have any ideas on this? The link is at

http://www.aerovelco.com/Flexrotor.html

Comment by Piotr Esden-Tempski on September 5, 2012 at 11:12am

@Murray I think Dave means the right project. The ATMOS team did a lot of flying in high winds as they are in the Netherlands they have plenty of that. :) They may have a video showing off their high wind performance.

I only have a video of the Quadshot dealing with some wind: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfUNnQ4dKmc

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