A team involved in relief operation missions developing drones for humanitarian aid has successfully completed the second week of the pilot program using their superARTIS helicopter drone, which has been designed to connect the DLR Institute of Flight‘s UAS projects with practical ways to apply drones to humanitarian issues.
Carrying humanitarian relief to assist the World Food Programme (WFP) and Red Cross representatives, the team carried out missions in the Bajo Yuna area of the Dominican Republic, which frequently becomes isolated due to flooding and associated ‘last mile’ delivery problems.
First, one whole week of successful flights were achieved using the superARTIS, which delivered humanitarian goods by dropping them in an innovative box created by Wings for Aid.
During the second week of the pilot operation in the Dominican Republic, the superARTIS team performed different humanitarian delivery missions together with Wings for Aid and the World Food Programme.
Different mission profiles were identified by the superATIS team inspired by past incidents to yield representative scenarios. This enabled deriving the data needed for the project, including operating the drone beyond visual line of site. There were numerous challenges like completing successful drops within a tight schedule and hoping that the favourable weather conditions would last, according to Johann Dauer, project lead of the DLR project ALAADy (Automated Low Altitude Air Delivery).
The first mission covered a distance of about 800 metres to deliver the humanitarian aid to a farm at the border of the village Barraquito. However, the superATIS team wasn’t quite happy with the drops of the boxes, which had worked successfully the previous week. Although some did not unfold as expected, the team considered the mission itself successful, and moved forward to the next mission on the next day.
Here, it covered a longer distance of around 3.5 kilometres. The take-off was close to a small town called Arenoso, and the flight route took the helicopter over rice fields to a village that suffers from the floods in this area very often.
Again, the mission was performed several times successfully. By this time, the drone team had achieved a certain routine in preparing and planning the mission – a testimony to the success of the concept of helicopter and box in real time. However the boxes did not perform well in all of the drops, resulting in many hypotheses being identified to assist the Wings for Aid team in modifications.
On the last day, the team decided it would be best spent on flight testing of the boxes in order to gather drops and corresponding data.
All the modifications were tested carefully and systematically, the resulting configuration worked perfectly and helped improve the flight of the box in differing operational conditions and climate situations in the future.
With all the requisite data to connect the results of this mission with the research projects for developing drones for humanitarian aid in place, Wings for Aid and Rhenus Logistics tackled the challenge and completed the project successfully.