Uncrewed Systems Technology 046

77 in-house 56 cc fuel-injected piston engine with electronic fuel injection, the aircraft’s VTOL capability comes from four electrically driven rotors that draw power from lithium-ion batteries, all housed in extended tail booms of patented Aeroflow design. To minimise drag in forward flight, the two blade rotors automatically align themselves fore and aft when switched off, allowing covers to snap down over them and shield them from the airflow. Konstantins Krivovs said the VTOL batteries can be swapped in under 2 minutes, and pointed out the aircraft’s rotating nose. “The nose is in the upwards position during take-off and landing, protecting the payload from any potential damage, and then rotates downwards during flight,” he said. “During operation, as the UAS banks and the nose remains aligned with the horizon, providing extra stability to the payload imagery. “Also, the nose can be rapidly swapped by removing two screws, detaching the nose and replacing it with another containing a different sensor,” he said. On the market for the past 2 years, this version of the Penguin C VTOL has an endurance of 14 hours and can operate at up to 180 km from base. Born out of the merger between Jennings Aeronautics and UAV Factory in September 2021, Edge Autonomy added Michigan-based Adaptive Energy, designer and manufacturer of solid oxide fuel cells for back-up and portable power applications in August 2022. LikeAbird had on show its new backpack UAV control station that integrates a battery management system, multiple radios, optional hands-on- throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls and a more conventional remote control pad. The idea behind the backpack is to create a modular system. “The pack can be used with the HOTAS to control a UAV in real time, or as a relay station for data and video from a UAV over LTE or other comms devices, but you can also customise the system as you want,” said CTO Jarno Puff. He noted that for direct first-person view piloting, the system can be used with video goggles from DJI, for example. He explained that the backpack system is divided into two main sections, one for power and the other for RF comms. “In the power section we have two standard batteries that you can hot- swap. You can then use the same kind of battery with an adapter as a power bank to recharge your tablet or phone, and to power 12 V devices.” The RF section can accept systems including IP radios, LTE cellular and satcom systems with power outputs of up to 10 W. “That is why we have two antenna poles, so that you can get the antennas far enough above your head that you don’t expose your brain to 10 W of 2.4 GHz radiation.” Puff described the example on display as a fully working proof of concept, and said that LikeAbird is now working on the first production-standard unit. Plettenberg was exhibiting at DroneX for the first time, and showed the newest member of its Nova series of electric propulsion motors, the Nova 15 LW, which was developed specifically for airborne uncrewed applications. The LW series is a redesign of the Nova in-runner brushless DC motor series featuring a lighter housing and other internal components enabling a 15% reduction in weight, while maintaining the ruggedness of the regular Nova series, according to the company. “We can build new lightweight versions of all our Nova motors, and we are developing them now,” said Bastian Greiner. Greiner emphasised that Plettenberg custom-builds motors for uncrewed applications based on a modular design rather than offering standard motors, and can achieve 15-30% greater efficiency compared with off-the-shelf motors. “That is part of our niche,” he said. “The second part is that we build enclosed rugged designs that can be used in very harsh environments, such as in deserts or at sea, and can be sealed to IP67.” While the company can supply liquid- cooled motors, most UAV manufacturers choose air cooling, he noted. “Cooling can be a real challenge in many airborne uncrewed systems. What we can do in this case is run thermal simulations and, if required, build a duct housing for the motor with an active fan, or integrate a fan into the motor,” Greiner said. Uncrewed Systems Technology | October/November 2022 Plettenberg’s newest Nova 50 electric propulsion motor, the LW