T-Works, the Telangana government’s premier prototyping centre, has now successfully built and tested an autonomous hybrid unmanned aerial vehicle that can travel up to a distance of 45 km.
The model designed, developed and tested by T-Works can launch itself like a conventional drone and then fly forward like a conventional winged aircraft before making a landing vertically. Covering a distance of 45 km, it travelled for 33 minutes.
The airframe and its components were designed and fabricated using software design tools, 3D printing, laser cutting and CNC routing machines currently available at the Phase-0 facility in Begumpet, Hyderabad.
A hybrid UAV, the Airborne Medical Rapid Transport (AMRT25) has a wingspan of 2.5m. While its vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) motors are powered by a 10,000 mAh battery, the forward flight is powered by a 30 cc gasoline engine.
A press release from the office of the Minister for IT, Industries, and Commerce K T Rama Rao said the AMRT25 UAV, apart from the delivery of medical supplies, can be used for surveying, inspection, defence applications, surveillance and as a testbed for experimental payloads. “It completed over 30 test flights over a week passing various parameters such as maximum range, endurance, waypoint navigation and return-to-launch capabilities,” the statement said.
In comparison to a conventional multi-rotor drone, a winged UAV consumes up to 75 per cent less power as the wings help it produce additional buoyant force. The AMRT’s design helps it carry much heavier payloads over much larger distances. A 5 m X 5 m flat clearing is sufficient to safely launch and land the aircraft. The engineers are now planning the next version of AMRT that can travel a distance of 100 km with a payload capacity of 3.5 kg.
According to the CEO of T-Works, Sujai Karampuri, commonly available drones called multi-rotors can do short flights with limited range and are suitable for food delivery, photography, and videography, etc. “The best battery-powered multi-rotors in the world are limited to a 40 km range while the most common and affordable ones are limited to around 20-25km after which the battery must be recharged or replaced. For wider applications and to cover longer distances, say over 100 km, with speed, we must break this range barrier. Here, fixed-wing VTOL-UAVs are an efficient option,” he said.
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