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

28 Dossier | Wingcopter 178 UAV flight control and autopilot software was completed successfully in 2016, while more recently product improvements such as active terrain-following have been integrated. The 178 HL can be controlled fully autonomously in a GNSS-assisted mode as well as in a stabilised manual flying mode. The GNSS mode includes an altitude-hold facility that also holds airspeed while allowing manual control of heading. The position-hold mode permits manual control of, for example, altitude for VTOL aircraft while maintaining position, while in fixed-wing aircraft mode it maintains heading. Capabilities that can be used remotely or programmed during missions include the ability to adjust the speed manually at any time while maintaining automatic control of other parameters, and triggering payloads such as cameras using GNSS position references, time or distance intervals, all while keeping manual override available. The flight control system also includes a number of safety features. In flight envelope monitoring, for example, it detects conditions such as stall, excessive roll and/or pitch, freefall, altitude loss, minimum altitude violation, airspeed loss and motor loss. It will also detect sensor failures and manage the ‘failover’ process that switches to alternative sensors in redundant systems. Its battery monitoring capabilities provide warnings and can carry out configurable actions in response to critical battery levels. Similarly, the system detects any loss of the comms link and can trigger an automatic return- home process. The motor monitoring system includes software that detects loss of thrust, and can also respond to rpm sensors if they are installed. It will also detect navigation sensor glitches and implement recovery procedures. Detecting blocked pitot tubes and complete sensor failures enables the 178 HL to switch automatically to thrust-based flying for safe return to an automatic landing. Specific hybrid VTOL features include smart selection of the most efficient mode (multi-rotor/fixed-wing) for returning home and landing, with all transitions handled automatically. There is also a loiter mode in which waypoints can be set to circle in fixed-wing mode, which is the most energy efficient, or transition automatically to a multi-rotor hover. February/March 2019 | Unmanned Systems Technology Cargo transport was a market that Wingcopter had in mind from the start of the 178’s development. A conference organised in 2016 by the German government overseas development organisation, GIZ, provided a platform to discuss medical delivery services with African governments. Wingcopter joined forces with courier company DHL, which already had experience with its Parcelcopter projects. The result of this cooperation was called the Deliver Future Pilot Project, which was implemented in 2018. It involved the 178 HL frequently bridging the gap between the Medical Stores Department in Mwanza, Tanzania, to the Ukerewe district hospital, 60 km away. The service allows medicines and medical samples to be transported in both directions within an hour, saving patients and medical personnel from having to travel by ferry and road transport, which can take up to 24 hours. The service also ensures that the cargo arrives in better condition than if it had been carried by other, slower means of transport. Wingcopter envisions a network-based approach to a sustainable delivery service. “We can connect UAV hubs that are around 90 km apart and require nothing more than a 5 x 5 m landing area, power supply and cell phone reception,” Wingcopter’s chief operating officer Ansgar Kadura says. “Each hub can supply the surrounding medical facilities with life-saving goods without the need for ground infrastructure at the receiving end. Such a network can be extended to cover greater distances.” With eight of these drone ports around the Tanzanian part of Lake Victoria, the 30 million inhabitants of the region would have same-day access to essential medicines. On November 28, 2018, the German minister for economic cooperation and development and a member of DHL’s board signed a memorandum of understanding to continue and extend the project. Medicine delivery in Tanzania Medicines arrive sooner and in better condition when delivered by UAV than when carried by slower, bumpier means of transport (Courtesy of DHL)