UAVOS Inc, the California-based unmanned vehicles solutions company has transformed a light, manned aircraft into an unmanned aerial vehicle, which along with a ground control station can form a part of an unmanned aerial complex. The idea behind such a complex is to develop an unmanned multi-functional complex capable of carrying out multiple missions ‘with an integrated special payload’.
UAVOS is already engaged in the development and production of unmanned civil, military and dual-use systems and solutions. To discover a little more about UAVOS and their work, please refer to our interview with Vadim Tarasov – UAVOS INC Investor and Board Member.
“Due to the nature of the project, the mission requires a well-coordinated work of the payloads of the aerial robotic complex consisting of 3 UAVs. The customer has opted for an unmanned complex, since installation of such payloads on manned vehicles is dangerous due to the high level of electromagnetic interference that affects the operation of the regular radio navigation equipment. We’ve converted 3 Pipistrel Sinus aircrafts into UAVs. We’ve modified wings of the original aircraft for the installation of hangers for payload, the wiring has been changed, and we’ve integrated the UAVOS automatic control system”, says Vadim Tarasov, UAVOS investor and Board member.
The Unmanned Complex
The aerial complex consists of a ground control station and unmanned aerial vehicles.
For developing these unmanned UAVs, UAVOS used three Sinus light aircrafts manufactured by Pipistrel, a Slovenian light aircraft manufacturer. The Sinus ultralight motorglider can be used as a glider or a long range cruiser and is a renowned versatile training aircraft.
The light aircraft were suitably modified to serve the purpose of testing. The wings of the aircrafts were modified to install hangers for payload, while the wiring was changed to adapt to the integrated UAVOS automatic control system.
The UAVs are designed for long flights with heavy payload and are built to endure harsh environment such as high turbulence and overloading. The aircrafts have reinforced fuselage and landing gear to enable landings in difficult areas, including grass field aerodromes or prepared sites.
The logic behind an unmanned complex is that the installation of heavy payloads on manned vehicles can be unsafe due to electromagnetic interference in the use of radio navigation equipment.
The aircrafts were modified to automate the complete flight operations, from the take-off and the flight, to the landing. The aircraft’s maximum take-off weight is 411 lb (~186kg) and can cruise at a maximum speed of 75 mph (120 km/h). Normal operating temperature range is -40F to 122F (-40 to + 50 degrees Celcius).
In terms of carrying payload and its impact on flight times, these UAVs can carry a payload of 88 lb (40 kg) for 20 hours, while a payload weight of 441 lb (200 kg) reduces the flight time to 5 hours.
The onboard control system can adjust to varying payloads and is controlled remotely via wireless internet. It also provides remote diagnostics data.
Why Manned Aircrafts?
UAVOS believe converting a manned aircraft into a UAV is “the simplest, fastest, most efficient and cost effective method at the initial stage of the creation of specialized heavy UAVs.” Creating a heavy-payload UAV from scratch would require significant amount of time, energy and resources. There are additional risks involved with the potential loss of a prototype during the tests. Rather, by modifying the already developed manned aircraft allowed the UAVOS engineers to focus on end-to-end testing of its automatic control systems, especially during the take-off and landing.
UAVOS utilised three UAVs for simultaneous flights under test conditions, which required strong co-ordination between the various UAVs with their payloads. Test flights are said to have demonstrated strong synchronization of the on-board control system with the payload.
There could be multiple uses for such unmanned aviation complexes. They can be used for remote surveillance, relay of goods to multiple remote locations, towing and dropping targets and for strategic military use. UAVs have proved indispensable in operations in remote regions, especially in hazardous territories and over deep seas.