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

109 and tested in-house with the company’s own tooling. “The early-stage investment in machinery and equipment allowed us to develop the aircraft, and it gives us total control over how every component is made,” he explains. That, he adds, improves quality control while enabling r&d and the tailoring of products to individual customer requirements. Opdam describes the Dark Matter Gen2 as a natural evolution resulting from customer feedback and embodying many refinements, particularly in terms of flight performance, endurance and payload capacity. He says the CFRP airframe is 30% lighter and stronger than its predecessor thanks to a change in manufacturing techniques, while operation has been simplified. The Gen2 features the Pixhawk Cube autopilot with more safety features and support for several additional sensors, he notes, emphasising that the associated Arducopter firmware and software are not only “excellent” but also under constant development and testing by a worldwide community of thousands of users. The autopilot also has the option for end- users to add their own features. The Pixhawk Cube also has a triple- redundant, temperature-stabilised IMU, and supports many different sensors, forms of communication and other hardware, Opdam notes, supporting further specialist development. The original Dark Matter hX was launched at the end of 2016, followed by the smaller qD quadcopter variant in 2019. These are in service with various organisations around the world, such as defence contractors, police forces, surveyors, package delivery companies and humanitarian organisations. “A few customers are now asking us to convert their Gen1 vehicles to Gen2 standard, which is something we are happily doing – for a fee – as the Dark Matter was conceived to be modular and upgradable.” Clogworks expects the Gen2 to broaden its customer base. “We already had survey customers coming to us for the Gen2 because of its compatibility with various GCS applications, including QGroundControl, Mission Planner and UGCS, which the vast majority of them use, and for the extra safety and redundancy.” Design for reliability The Dark Matter Gen2 features a number of duplicated systems, indicating that redundancy is a key element of Clogworks’ approach to safety and reliability. “The manned aviation industry is all about safety and trying to remove any single points of failure, and we can and should learn a lot from that,” Opdam says. “From day one we have taken safety very seriously,” he emphasises. “Some applications are near or in densely populated areas, so any failures have to be prevented or mitigated to ensure that operational risks are as low as reasonably possible. Also, we believe that as drones are used more, the safety requirements will become more stringent.” Customers are also needing to carry expensive payloads such as large Lidars more often, so it is increasingly important for them to have confidence in the aircraft’s ability to perform safely. The original test programme focused on airframe structure, flight performance and efficiency, and the Gen2 programme built on this. “For example, we improved overall airframe rigidity, temperature resistance and component strength, to name a few,” Opdam explains. “Testing includes destructive and non-destructive testing of carbon parts, endurance testing, dyno testing, in-house ingress testing and more.” The Dark Matter Gen2 family has the option for dual batteries, along with triple temperature-controlled IMUs, dual GPS masts, six electric motors in the case of the hX model, and the option of redundancy in the control and payload data links. However, this approach can only go so far in maximising the MTBF of any system. “The MTBF also depends on the operating conditions, so it is important for customers to keep to the maintenance and servicing regime we suggest,” Opdam explains. Clogworks Dark Matter | Digest Uncrewed Systems Technology | August/September 2022 Retractable landing gear is an option that provides a clear field of view for any sensors mounted under the fuselage, with retraction and deployment by servo motor