Helicopter Robinson Converted by UAVOS to Unmanned Drone Completed Its First Full-Scale Test Flight
Robinson-22 helicopter converted by UAVOS to unmanned drone successfully completed in-air programmed missions. The project was carried out jointly with King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), a scientific government institution of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The first flight of the modernized helicopter lasted more than 1 hour and was performed in a fully self-piloted mode, reaching an altitude of up to 2200ft (670m). During the flight all scheduled tests were performed including fully automatic take-off, en-route flight and landing. Tuning of UAV control settings was completed as well.
The components manufactured by UAVOS such as autopilot, servo drives, sensor system and additional backup power supply were installed into R22-UV helicopter.
During the conversion the aircraft electrical system was upgraded, manual control was removed, the fuselage was altered for servo drives and components of the automatic control system installation. In addition, the pilot seats were removed and replaced by additional fuel tanks.
Aliaksei Stratsilatau, UAVOS Chairman of the board and Lead developer, states: “UAVOS SD-1 high-speed and highly reliable actuators without free play allowed to achieve precision accuracy control of the helicopter and get full control in all flight modes. We’ve also developed autorotation algorithm that increases reliability of the unmanned system. Enhancing an UAV with our autopilot system gives additional features and advantages to the existing options: automatic take-off and landing, remote Ground Controls network capability, dead-reckoning and operations with jammed GPS, auto-rotation landing capability and high efficiency flight control, based on TECS (Total Energy Control System).”
The converted R22-UV is an excellent platform for future research and testing of the aircraft various commercial options. In the scope of the next test flights cargo delivery of up to 330lb (150kg) in the automatic mode is scheduled. Flights with duration of 6+ hours using additional fuel tanks and a payload for monitoring the land surface are also planned. Besides that, we are planning to check operational limitations of the UAV during night flights and flights under severe weather conditions. One of the top priorities is test possibility to use spraying equipment and to check whether R22-UV fits for agricultural purposes.
Powered by a gasoline engine, the unmanned R22-UV helicopter is able to deliver cargo or carry payload with a total weight of up to 330lb (150kg) with a maximum take-off weight 1400lb (635kg). The converted aircraft has practical ceiling of 13,780ft (4,200m) and has a top speed of 189 kph. The UAV is designed to carry high-precision, heavy professional equipment 88lb (40kg and more) for a wide variety of missions. The UAV is meant to carry Lidar, SAR, any heavy optical equipment, or gas analyzers.
The advantage of the R22-UV is the fact that it can be operated in the regions without airfields, under severe weather conditions and during night-time, in the conditions with the high stress of risk for the pilot. The converted helicopter is indispensable for oil and gas companies which need to deliver cargo to hard-to-reach areas, where chemicals hazardous to humans are spread on the fields and forests. Operational limits for high-altitude flights and missions in heavy turbulence and high mountain regions should be defined after appropriate testing.
Aliaksei Stratsilatau explains why Robinson-22 helicopter was chosen for conversion: “In this project we applied all our knowledge and experience gained during the conversion of Pipistrel aircraft. The converted Robinson helicopter is very interesting for our potential customers on the growing market of heavy, reliable UAV. R22-UV has a low price because the base helicopter is rather cheap. In addition, the operating cost for this aircraft is very low, which makes it attractive for commercial use. The aircraft was certified, and a large number of such helicopters are now in operation all over the world. The customer has access to 95% of spare parts and is able to purchase them at service centers. In addition, Robinson offers basic training for technicians in the training centers.”
30 April 2019