Unmanned vehicles getting bigger and biggerWhen most people think of drones – even commercial ones – they picture a quadcopter, or maybe a long endurance fixed wing. But at the larger end of the market, there are new developments in a totally different model of unmanned aircraft: an industrial sized, gasoline powered vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) craft.
California-based UAVOS recently demonstrated their SURVEYOR-H at UMEX in Abu Dhabi, which they call the “tractor modification” of a VTOL drone. Like a tractor – or a tank – the goal of the vehicle isn’t designed for long flight endurance or sleek speed. At a take-off weight of 87 kg, the company says that the design is geared towards durability, extended operation life, ease of use, and serviceability.
Gasoline-powered, it has a flight range of about 250 miles, with a practical ceiling of 6800 ft. It flies for about 5 hours with a relatively small payload of 5 kg. It’s big. It’s reliable. It’s safe and relatively easy to handle. But what’s a huge industrial drone with a relatively light payload capacity used for?
Quite a number of things, evidently. “For the new helicopter, a target payload with a 4K day camera, thermal camera and laser rangefinder is designed,” says the company. “Weight of the gyro-stabilized suspension is 3.6 kg. Its gimbal includes a computer for processing video on board, capturing and tracking targets, recording data and automatic guidance.”
Vadim Tarasov, UAVOS investor and board member says: “The technical architecture of the new VTOL was designed by taking into account the experience of commercial use of helicopters with different target payloads. The new UAV embodies a whole range of design features that enhance the strength and operational survivability of the machine. So, the construction of the unmanned vehicle was strengthened. The helicopter has a completely aluminium framework without the presence of hobby components.”
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