ConservationDrones Vanguard deployed in Nepal‘s latest UAVs were recently deployed in Chitwan National Park in Nepal. We featured one of them, the Caipy video drone, in our last post (8.... Here is its big brother, the Vanguard drone (1400 mm wingspan). The Vanguard is a ‘glider-wing’ that has a flight time of 1 hour, a range of 40 km, and is designed to be durable and easy to launch (with a bungee cord). Due to the difficulty of locating suitable airstrips in the areas these drones would be operating in, the Vanguard is designed to sustain hard landings in high grass or bushy areas within national parks.

Special thanks goes to the WWF AREAS Programme (Asian Rhino and Elephant Action Strategy) which has been supporting the development of these new airframes.

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Comment by Gary Mortimer on November 3, 2013 at 2:06am

Why such huge fins they will be just adding a chunk of drag for no extra stability.

Comment by Simon Wunderlin on November 3, 2013 at 2:54am

Hi Gary, tests have shown that these fins give more stability and less induced drag than the smaller ones.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on November 3, 2013 at 4:26am

Wow I'd like to see that in something like XFLR most folks are going with smaller fins and a portion under the wing.

Comment by Simon Wunderlin on November 3, 2013 at 4:32am

Gary: this might not be the best aerodynamic design, I have decided to not use symatric winglets because ruggedness was more important. Having the winglets scratch the ground on every landing is not the best option for us.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on November 3, 2013 at 5:59am

Protects props though especially if you make them semi sacrificial. But you are right its not worth sacrificing a tiny percentage point of improvement at the expense of ruggedness.

Comment by Mark on November 3, 2013 at 7:09am

Gary, as you can see prop is raised a bit. And if the prop is not folding - there is not much protection from the winglets.

Many people do not realize, induced drag is far superior to any other drag on the plane. It could account for up-to 75% of the total drag of the airframe and mostly missed by the designers.

Extra directional stability never hurts. 7 out of 10 RC models I see have miscalculated footage of the tail fins. My latest discovery was a full scale Grob 105 glider is missing a huge chunk of the tail fin footage by design - as a result very hard directional control and bad attitude in thermals.

Comment by Simon Wunderlin on November 3, 2013 at 7:25am

Mark, induced drag was really a concern i did address with this design. Earlier prototypes had folding props but weight and easily accessible spare parts (and easy field repairs) were a bigger concern. It turned out that the raised engine position with a normal prop was a better solution for our application.

Comment by Mark on November 3, 2013 at 1:31pm

Simon, I agree. Simplicity usually works best at the field. Many things has to be taken under consideration.

This is my personal opinion and has nothing to do with your particular project. I'd go with slick molded fiberglass/carbon fiber design. Easy and fast to replicate. Initially it'll take an extra effort but on the end it could be a very lucrative solution.

It is hard to brake and aerodynamics are far superior to a foamy. No sharp angles translates to a higher flight endurance (read cheaper flight minutes, lighter battery loads etc.) while weight is quite similar or lighter than a foamy.

You can built an army of drone operators in the area since training for the same airframe yields predictable results. 

Comment by Simon Wunderlin on November 4, 2013 at 4:26am

I would really like to go composite. The above plane had to be developed in 2 months and I did this next to my 120% job. I guess once we produce larger numbers it would make sense.




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