We are very excited to announce that we have formed a team for the 2016 Medical Express challenge!
The team comprises members from two Perth teams that competed in 2014 challenge, PerthUAV and Team H2Joe. The new team is called WestCoastUAV.
Our plan closely aligns with that outlined in the White Paper which we released in early May.
We have made one significant change which we think will make our project much more achievable. We originally had planned to use a VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) airframe for the retrieval aircraft, this was needed so that it could cover the large distance to get to the target area, and then land in a potentially confined space.
We have now decided to go with a VSTOL (very-short take-off and landing) platform instead. This will be a conventional forward flight airframe thus avoiding the complexity of transitioning between different flight modes. The platform will have a reverse thrust system and potentially airbrakes which will allow it to land with at a very steep angle. The platform will have enough power to be able to take-off in a very short distance.
We have decided to use the Hercules platform from Crash Test Hobby. This uses durable and highly crash resilient EPP foam. Below is a video showing the very short take-off capabilities.
Reverse thrust testing
The team has already been busy developing the reverse thrust system needed for the VSTOL platform, and had some successful flights tests last week.
This system uses an external processor to detect when the UAV is coming in for landing. It then detects when the UAV is above or below the desired glide slope, and applies reverse thrust accordingly. Ideally the TECS (total energy control system) in the ArdoPilot autopilot system would be able to handle this, but until this can use reverse thrust the system seems to be working pretty well.
The next step is to use this system on the larger Hercules platform, and demonstrate the autonomous touch and goes in very short distances. We may also implement a system for air brakes to further improve the landing glide slope angle.
The team is currently in discussions with a local drone developer and manufacturer about a potential partnership. We can’t give too much away at this stage but this may include the use of a new high-performance aircraft that would be very well suited to this mission.