Unmanned Systems Technology 024 | Wingcopter 178 l 5G focus l UUVs insight l CES report l Stromkind KAT l Intelligent Energy fuel cell l Earthsense TerraSentia l Connectors focus l Advanced Engineering report

23 178, the Wingcopter XBR, to 240.06 kph at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, in England, in July 2018. In addition to the inherent advantages of a hybrid UAV – the greater efficiency, missions over a longer range and greater endurance compared to multi-copters – Kadura believes the 178 HL offers three further unique selling points. The first is its high payload capacity, combined with its long range. That is possible because the same motors and propellers are used in all flight modes, avoiding parasitic weight, as well as the refined vehicle’s lightweight construction. The second is the Wingcopter’s robust behaviour in strong winds, which results from the tiltrotor mechanism. While gusts can be challenging for other hybrid UAVs, the 178 HL adjusts its orientation towards the wind and dynamically tilts its rotors in hover mode to compensate for gusts of up to 20 m/s, or 38 knots. The third point is the ease of use. “We see a strong demand for modular hybrid VTOL systems with high payloads that stay below the 25 kg MTOW line, and in this category there are only a few platforms,” Kadura says. “Commercial drone operators can use their heavy payloads more intensively with our VTOL. “The 178 HL can carry cutting-edge Lidar sensors on missions lasting an hour. That allows much more frequent surveys or inspections compared with much more costly helicopter operations.” Innovating delivery by UAV The original Wingcopter 178 came onto the market at the beginning of 2017; early adopters included survey and research operators, followed by inspection and delivery services. One of the latter is courier company DHL, which is developing a medicine delivery service in Tanzania in cooperation with Wingcopter and the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development as well as German development agency GIZ and local partners (see sidebar: Medicine delivery in Tanzania). More recently, Wingcopter won the world’s first commercial contract to deliver vaccines using drones. Following the regular tendering protocol, the contract was awarded by Unicef and the Ministry of Health of Vanuatu, an island nation north-east of Australia. Wingcopter’s BVLOS flight operations are approved by Australian CASA regulators, who are contracted to support and enable the local civil aviation authority to issue Part 102 permissions. Kadura says, “During the operations we will regularly service around 20 facilities from one central vaccine storage facility. The vaccines will be delivered in aerodynamic and biodegradable insulation boxes mounted below the 178 HL.” The advantage with this delivery process is that it works with a minimum of ground infrastructure, as the Wingcopter can take off and land on a 5 x 5 m area. At the delivery point, the cargo is lowered to the ground by a line while the 178 HL hovers at precisely 10 m, enabled by integrating laser altimeter measurements into the control system. That mitigates the risks inherent in landing beyond visual line of sight as well as potentially damaging or losing the parcel when dropping it by parachute. Tilt mechanism The core technological innovation embodied in the Wingcopter UAVs is the patented tiltrotor mechanism, which is designed to enable smooth transitions between hovering and wing-borne Wingcopter chose this distinctive M-wing planform partly for its benign aerodynamic characteristics (Courtesy of DHL) Unmanned Systems Technology | February/March 2019 Wingcopter 178 UAV | Dossier The tiltrotor’s underbelly payload pod is kept clear of the ground by the high skid landing gear (Courtesy of DHL)