Unmanned Systems Technology 033 l SubSeaSail Gen6 USSV l Servo actuators focus l UAVs insight l Farnborough 2020 update l Transforma XDBOT l Strange Development REVolution l Radio telemetry focus

23 “In mining, for example, when a machine breaks down it can cost tens of thousands of dollars per hour,” Buchmueller says. “You have to rectify the problem – and fast – and it takes less time to fly a spare part straight to the mine than transport it by road.” All Voly-series UAVs are designed as twin-boom VTOL-transition aircraft, which combine fixed-wing and quadrotor propulsion architectures. As CTO, Buchmueller has overseen the unveiling of Volansi’s newest Voly, the M20. He says, “The M20 can carry up to 20 lb [9 kg] of cargo, in a shoebox-sized container as standard beneath the centre of gravity. You’d be surprised by how many things people want to be able to deliver over medium distances at short notice that fit that volume. “More than 80% of spare parts that are needed for broken-down equipment fit within this UAV’s capacity. It’s not dissimilar to what motivated us at Amazon – back then, 70-90% of Amazon shipments weighed less than 5 lb.” On top of this versatility in carrying capacity, the M20 has been designed with a multi-role capability for missions over water as well as flying over land – the ‘M’ prefix is intended to indicate that the craft has been designed for use in maritime environments. That has involved significant structural and surface engineering to protect its internal and propulsion systems against ingress and corrosion from sea spray, and developing the control software to tolerate sea-level gusts and crosswinds during take-off, hover and landing. The M20 also has a payload bay under its nose (unlike Volansi’s other UAVs) to house 10 lb (4.5 kg) EO/IR gimbals for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions at the same time as the 20 lb of cargo. These payload options are part of a 230 lb (104 kg) MTOW, and the M20 has a cruising speed of 70 mph, making it Volansi’s heaviest and fastest UAV to date. Propulsion comes from a new (unnamed) boxer engine, available in gasoline and heavy-fuel variants, the latter being a vital requirement for maritime integration, given that the higher flashpoint of heavy fuels makes them less of a fire hazard. “Volansi’s engineers have accumulated huge in-house experience of hybridising aircraft to use the engine for propulsion, and for recharging the batteries for electrically powered hover and VTOL, as well as timing them, minimising emissions and keeping them reliable in different environments. “I’ve had to quickly come to grips with a lot of that. Until the gravimetric energy density of batteries gets way, way higher, the use of small UAV-type engines is going to be a massive differentiator in the success of UAVs. The M20 for instance can cover 300 miles on a full fuel tank, and today’s industrial users want ever- longer ranges. “Also, every UAV carries cellular and satellite data links as standard. We can reach them and trial them from anywhere in the world, and recover lost links for customers before handing control back to them.” In Buchmueller’s view, this ‘always- connected’ functionality will need to become a common standard for UAVs the world over. “You never worry about whether your smartphone for example is connected – you know you can be reached safely, anytime, anywhere. Our UAVs are the same, and that’s driven by applying commodified internet technologies such as cellular, cloud computing, edge computing and so on.” He says this intersection between UAVs and IoT technology will enable a sorely needed rise in functionality and reliability for the former, not only across the geo- mapping world where he first began but in logistics, humanitarian aid, maritime surveillance and beyond. Unmanned Systems Technology | August/September 2020 Daniel Buchmueller is CTO of California-based Volansi, where he oversees the development of the company’s VTOL-transitioning, medium altitude, medium endurance heavy-lift UAVs aimed at maritime and terrestrial industries as well as defence and security forces. His early childhood in Switzerland was spent among helicopters and RC aircraft, and during his university years he gained academic and professional expertise in software programming and mapping, as well as doing his national service in the Swiss Army. After four years at Microsoft, working mainly on Bing Maps (or Virtual Earth as it was then called), he went to work for Amazon in 2013 and co-founded Amazon Prime Air. Here he led development teams for the retail giant’s UAVs through flight testing and the first airborne package delivery in England in 2016. From 2018 to this year he led Airbus’ Project Vesper, aimed at developing UAV courier services, launching full-scale flight trials in November last year in Guangzhou, China, before joining Volansi earlier this year. He has also developed software aimed at business development services, augmented reality and supporting cancer research. He is also a board member at Silo, which produces safes that incorporate biometrics and other IoT-type security technologies. Daniel Buchmueller