New hybrid drone debuts in Australia

The ‘delftAcopter’ can fly autonomously and beyond line of sight, with efficiency in both hovering and forward flight

Next week the TU Delft MAVlab will participate in Australia’s UAV Medical Express Challenge, where it will debut its new hybrid drone – the delftAcopter.

The delftAcopter is a hybrid electric UAV with exceptional efficiency both in hovering and forward flight. It first takes off as a helicopter, before tilting 90 degrees and continuing flight as an aircraft. It has one main rotor and two small engines on the tips of its wings.

The 4kg delftAcopter can fly at speeds up to 100 km/hr, as far as 60 km, for one hour on electric power. It can be operated beyond line of sight through its Iridium satellite communication link, and flies autonomously due to its advanced on-board stereoscopic wide field of view computer vision.

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DAR’s CTO Bart Remes is the principal researcher on this project. Via TU Delft, he explained the significance of the delftAcopter:

“Vertical take-off (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.”

Part of what makes the delftAcopter so innovative is the use of a tailless double-decker wing with a helicopter propeller, put in optimum configuration during take-off, when hovering and during flight.

The Australia UAV Medical Express Challenge is an international competition designed to test drones’ abilities to provide medical aid in remote areas. The MAVlab is one of 11 finalists, and will compete between 27 and 29 September.

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