Uncrewed Systems Technology 049 - April/May 2023

97 Cleo Robotics Dronut X1 | In operation flight trajectories and position holding are performed using a Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC, which processes sensor data to determine the optimal flight control logic, with some additional ARM processors for handling ancillary tasks in a dedicated manner. The vision and Lidar in particular are key to correcting the drift that MEMS IMUs inevitably suffer from. As the Dronut flies, a 2.4 GHz MIMO radio fromMicrohard (which is likely to remain Cleo’s comms supplier) enables a generally persistent link between the UAV and GCS for control as well as live video telemetry. The often metallic operating environments in which it flies enable transmitted signals to be bounced along to their receiver in most cases rather than suppressed. “It’s an industry-standard and very lightweight radio design; we know other UAVs that are contemporaries of the Dronut in application terms use the same or similar models,” Eleryan adds. “We’ve also sought to integrate our antennas as far away from our propellers as possible, to minimise interference.” At mission’s end At the moment, an autonomous return capability to allow the Dronut to make its way back to its launch point is being developed and will be released with the upgraded version soon. Until then, the Qualcomm Snapdragon integrates automated warning messages to let the operator know when the battery’s energy or comms signal strength is running low. The Dronut will automatically land if either is close to a total loss, for the operator to retrieve it. Once it has been recovered, the lenses, control surfaces and propellers can be cleaned. The battery can also be removed and charged, which takes around 40 minutes, although naturally a pre-charged pack can be plugged in if the X1 is needed quickly for another task. Future r&d On top of addingmore perception sensors to the Dronut and upgrading its radio, Cleo plans to research and improve a few areas of its performance. One is the reduction andmitigation of noise. As discussed, some end-users actively seek to have the Dronut flying around people, andwhile Eleryan notes that the X1 is “not painfully loud”, he concedes that it is not quiet either. “In most of the use cases I’ve mentioned, noise isn’t a concern, because factory floors for instance are pretty loud already, but it will become critical in our next phases as we look to inspecting quieter industrial assets,” he says. Improving propeller designs will form a key part of Cleo’s r&d in this respect. Here, Eleryan nods towards the toroidal propellers recently unveiled by MIT Lincoln Labs, not far from Cleo Robotics’ base, as an example of how such noise reduction can be achieved. Lastly he adds that increasing flight times to around 20 minutes and enhancing the X1’s autonomous capabilities are also on the cards for this year. Uncrewed Systems Technology | April/May 2023 Dronut X1 Ducted aerial vehicle Weight: 440 g Dimensions: 16.5 x 10.1 cm Maximumflight endurance: 12 minutes Maximumendurance during stationary observation: 60 minutes Charging time: 40 minutes Maximum airspeed: 4 m/s (software-limited) Maximumwind speed tolerance: 15 kph Some key suppliers SoC: Qualcomm Lidar: PMD Technologies Radios: Microhard GCS: UXV Technologies Specifications The metallic spaces in which the Dronut works enable its 2.4 GHz MIMO radio links to effectively bounce all flight and video data safely back to its GCS