Issue 45 | Uncrewed Systems Technology Aug/Sept 2022 Tidewie USV Tupan | Performance monitoring | Bayonet 350 | UAVs insight | Xponential 2022 | ULPower UL350i and UL350iHPS | Elroy Air Chaparral | Gimbals | Clogworks Dark Matter

108 W hile the multi- copter is almost the default configuration for VTOL UAVs, those designed for professional use and BVLOS operations in all weathers are something of a breed apart, particularly when it comes to safety and reliability. Known for the Dark Matter hexacopter, Clogworks recently launched its extensively updated hX Gen2 variant, which incorporates enhancements in both these areas. “It was clear even when the company was born in 2014 that all-weather BVLOS flights would be a crucial element for future applications, and where the drone industry would be heading at some stage,” says Clogworks’ founder and CEO Peter Opdam. “That meant we needed traceability on raw materials, high-quality components and rigorous build and testing procedures to pass airworthiness tests,” he says. “The weather resistance was also critical, as when you fly for a long distance and duration you can encounter any type of weather – especially in the UK.” In addition to the usual need for low weight, rigidity and aerodynamic efficiency to maximise performance and endurance from the available power, the original Dark Matter airframe also had to protect sensitive components including batteries and electronics from the elements. That led to the design of a ‘sculpted’ carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP) shell. The low-drag shell is a key element in the West Yorkshire, UK, company’s drive for aerodynamic efficiency, as in general that was – and remains – key to range and endurance, Opdam argues. “When the original hX first flew in 2016 it could fly for 48 minutes, here on the moors in real conditions. Most similar sized drones could not match that level of performance, and barely managed half that,” he says. “When you get the most out of your standard system in terms of efficiency, it allows you to get excellent performance with added extras. Most of our customers want tailored solutions with some specific requirements of extra hardware, but still want an optimum range, endurance, speed and the ability to operate in adverse environments.” Opdam says that, with the exception of the motors, propellers and some electronic components, the entire aircraft is designed, manufactured, assembled Peter Donaldson finds out how this all- weather BVLOS hexacopter was developed, in anticipation of future applications A view to the future August/September 2022 | Uncrewed Systems Technology The Dark Matter hX Gen2 is a major upgrade of a vehicle developed for BVLOS operations, with an emphasis on systems redundancy and materials traceability (Images courtesy of Clogworks)