Drones used to be something exciting and new but they seemingly begin to become a commodity as far as hardware goes. From now on the interesting cases will be customized solutions involving drones to deliver these services. Mainly one would think that his is then about design and solving problems of particular niche industries.
On the other hand, there is little novelty in drone manufacturing. GoPro exhausted the market for action cameras and tries to also introduce their own drone ‘Karma’ that could then be combined with their imaging systems. A little late for this step but maybe they will excel at this niche similar to how they excelled with the Hero cameras.
And yet there is some novelty left in this space. We were recently informed by TU Delft on their work on the ‘delftAcopter‘, also subbed delta-wing electric long-range transitioning autonomous helicopter. That’s a new type of drone that could be classified as a biplane helicopter in the dictionary of aviation. Beyond that, it can change its flight mode from the vertically propelled drone mode by tilting 90 degrees to fly like a common aircraft. That’s something new.
How does it work?
The delftAcopter is unmanned (UAV) and has one primary rotor in the center and two smaller engines on the wings. The design makes this drone incredibly easy to take off, maneuver, and land even in challenging areas such as boats. TU Delft MAVlab researcher Bart Remes explains that, “vertical takeoff (or landing) with horizontal flight is not actually new, but never has it been so elegant. Because there is no tail and the aircraft has just a single double-decker wing, it can remain elegantly upright for take-off and landing”.
The delftAcopter’s wingspan is around 1.5m and can smoothly hover in mid-air or fly at speeds of up to 100 km/h for a maximum distance of 60 km or for one hour. The body of the drone weighs roughly 4 kg and is utilizing only electric power. Its consumption is 150 watt for a cruise speed of 50 knots and the most efficient speed setup is 120 watt for 35 knots.
Earlier this year, in September, the delftAcopter managed to win the second prize and Airmanship Award during the 2016 Outback Medical Express UAV Challenge in Australia.
Read more about it in this blog post.