Issue 41 Unmanned Systems Technology December/January 2022 PteroDynamics X-P4 l Sense & avoid l 4Front Robotics Cricket l Autonomous transport l NWFC-1500 fuel cell l DroneX report l OceanScout I Composites I DSEI 2021 report

72 W ith international travel returning to normality, the DroneX trade show and conference took place in October 2021, with suppliers of UAVs and critical subsystems in attendance to show their latest innovations to attendees at the ExCeL hall in London. Many companies were eager to give us exclusive insight into their newest creations and their benefits for end-users. A selection of them is presented here. Orthodrone showcased its new hybrid UAV prototype, which is designed for 2 hours of flight time in harsh offshore environments. It features a unique stabilisation architecture and combines survey-grade Lidar with two metric, medium-format cameras for high-quality 3D geospatial mapping and modelling. “Most UAVs have multiple payloads either aligned and fixed to the body or stabilised separately,” explained Juri Klusak. “That means you must make a choice: accept lower data quality or use payload-specific gimbals, which add to the overall weight and shift multi-sensor geometry. Instead, we came up with a UAV where the body itself is the gimbal, stabilising multiple payloads while keeping them perfectly aligned. “Its 20 kg centre mass contains multiple payloads, an onboard processing unit, as well as a genset and fuel tank. The arms rotate dynamically around the body, carrying the lift motors, ESCs and propellers. That means only 5 kg of the drone’s mass is in motion to stabilise and hold position when hovering, instead of all 25 kg.” The UAV on display featured a Riegl miniVUX-1UAV with a 360 º field of view and two Phase One iXM-100 cameras, pointing downwards for nadir data acquisition. This camera combination offers a four-band solution for capturing both RGB and NIR data at up to sub-millimetre resolution. “Because of our proprietary stabilisation, the system is more weight-efficient and agile than similarly sized drones. The UAV also tolerates very strong winds and gusts, whereas most multi-rotors top out at 10-12 m/s,” Klusak added. Orthodrone’s first batch of prototypes has already been pre-ordered by an offshore services provider, and the company plans to look at further cases for the system in the summer of 2022. Mejzlik Propellers took a moment to inform us of an ongoing research collaboration with UBIQ Aerospace to produce an autonomous ice protection solution for UAV propellers. “UBIQ have tested a range of our propellers with and without an integrated ice protection solution in an icing wind tunnel in Finland to identify how ice forms across the blades as they spin at different revs and how to protect them,” explained Ivana Rihova. “UBIQ approached us with the idea for this project about a year ago, and there are further tests planned for over the next few months, using the latest ice-protected propellers to verify designs and optimise development processes.” Suppliers and potential customers flocked to this UAV technologies expo, allowing Rory Jackson to highlight some of the advances on display Vertical markets December/January 2022 | Unmanned Systems Technology Orthodrone’s hybrid UAV drew a steady stream of interest at the well-attended show