Delft VTOL project uses helicopter-style main rotor for effeciency

From NewAtlas:

We have seen a few different takes on Vertical TakeOff and Landing (VTOL) drones over the last few years. The idea behind such approaches is to harness the typically longer range and greater payload capacity of fixed-wing drones and mix it with the superior agility of multicopters, allowing them to take off and land in tight spaces.

Some of these have been developed for military purposes, such as the HQ UAV and the Batwing-like AirMule, but others, like the VTOL Kestrel and SkyProwler are aimed more at hobbyists. In developing the delftAcopter, the researchers have set out to build a drone that can be used to carry medical supplies to tough-to-reach areas.

The electric drone takes the form of a miniature biplane, an aircraft design that uses two wings stacked on top of one another which became popular in the early years of aviation following its success at the hands of the Wright brothers. While some VTOL drones use tilting propellors to switch from vertical to horizontal movement, the delftAcopter itself changes orientation as it makes that transition.

Prior to takeoff, it sits upright with the propellor spinning horizontally, just like a helicopter. Then as it reaches the desired height, it shifts its position by 90 degrees so that the propellor is facing forward and it is thrust in that direction, allowing it to zip along at up to 107 km/h (66 mph). With a 10,000 mAh battery onboard, the aircraft can fly for up to 60 minutes on a single charge.

The delftAcopter is capable of entirely autonomous flight, including takeoff, forward flight transition and landing. It can travel beyond the operator's line of sight and maintain a connection through an Iridium satellite connection, which the researchers actually claim allows it to be controlled from anywhere on the planet.

It uses Parrot's S.L.A.M.dunk developer kit along with a fish-eye stereo camera to gather video, and uses an inertial measurement unit (IMU) and GPS to track its position during flight. The craft weighs 4 kg (8.8 lb) and also features obstacle avoidance and the ability to pick out safe landing zones.

The team is set to put the delftAcopter through its paces at the upcoming 2016 Outback Medical Challenge. The event takes place in Australia and tasks competitors with building an autonomous aircraft capable of retrieving a blood sample from a stranded person located at an inaccessible site around 30 km (18 mi) away.

Drones have emerged as tools with great potential when it comes to search, rescue and disaster relief situations. Various drones have been tested for these purposes in the US, the Swiss Alps and across Africa, a particularly suitable candidate due to rough terrain and the lack of paved roads and infrastructure to move cargo by land. The delftAcopter will have its chance to demonstrate its wherewithal at the Outback Medical Challenge between September 27 to 29.

Views: 2840

Comment by Thorsten on September 20, 2016 at 12:13pm

That's thinking out of the box! Nice!

Comment by Joe Renteria on September 20, 2016 at 12:30pm
This is nice, but is basically a flying wing version of what Aerovel is doing with their Flexrotor. That said, the Flexrotor has great performance...
Comment by earthpatrol on September 20, 2016 at 12:46pm

It's powered by PaparazziUAV as well.

Comment by Jason Franciosa on September 20, 2016 at 2:00pm

I like it, Much smarter approach than adding 4 extra complete power-systems that are completely useless and only additional drag and weight when not taking off or landing. A VTOL option that uses the same system for propulsion as hover is going to be the design that wins out in low cost, simplicity, reliability, and efficiency.

Comment by Andrew Rabbitt on September 20, 2016 at 5:14pm

It'd be interesting to compare performance with a conventional helicopter which is about equivalent in complexity.

Comment by Jason Franciosa on September 20, 2016 at 5:30pm

That is a good point, what advantage does this have over a conventional helicopter? 

The only major one I can think of is this could potentially be much faster as it does not suffer from RBS.

Comment by Rana on September 20, 2016 at 6:13pm

Wow, what a great idea !

Comment by RichWest on September 20, 2016 at 7:38pm

Wow.  Amazing minds...Good luck at the Outback Medical Challenge!

Comment by JB on September 20, 2016 at 9:13pm

Very nice!! Overall I really like the flexrotor concept and this version even looks like a lightweight improvement of that type of design.

In comparison to a standard helicopter this obviously provides faster and longer range, and offer's better endurance in forward flight. I'm thinking the biplane design is for both structural and aerodynamic reasons, one being that tailsitter aircraft are prone to wind due to the exposed wing in hover and a biplane reduces the surface area. It also looks like the camera equipment is mounted in the tail of the plane to allow for imaging in hover, and probably also in forward flight if mounted on a tilt gimbal. A nice design touch that solves some tailsitter problems.

Atm the weather looks reasonable for Dalby, so hopefully, for all of us going there next week, the wind will stay away for the OBC event! 

(I think it might be 2kg too heavy for the event though! ;-) ) 

Comment by Ouroboros on September 21, 2016 at 1:36am

Appears to have wingtip props to function as anti-torque, so technically a tricopter? Tip props don't appear to feather or tilt...


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