Fixed-wing drone goes VTOL with add-on module
Lately we've been seeing an increasing number of VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) drones, that combine the best qualities of fixed-wing aircraft and quadcopters. So, what do you do if you already manufacture a standard fixed-wing model? In the case of FlyTech, you offer a VTOL upgrade module.
Like other fixed-wing drones, FlyTech's Birdie is faster and more energy-efficient than a quadcopter when in forward flight. This makes it well-suited to tasks such as the aerial mapping of large areas. For landings, however, it requires a flat, smooth, open space. That's where quadcopters have the advantage, as they can land (and take off) on the spot, on rough terrain.
VTOLs feature both wings and copter-style horizontal propellers, so they can take off and land vertically, but then switch over to fixed-wing flight once it's time to get cruising. FlyTech's new module was designed to give the company's Birdie fixed-wing drone those same combined qualities, but only when needed – after all, the extra gear on VTOLs does add weight, energy-use and complexity.
The module actually consists of two components, each one featuring two arms with a horizontal prop at the end. These are quickly attached by hand to the underside of an off-the-shelf Birdie, where its detachable wings join its body.
This causes the handheld remote control to automatically switch over to VTOL flight mode. Once activated via that remote, the Birdie autonomously takes off vertically, switches to fixed-wing flight to perform its preprogrammed mission, and then lands vertically when it's done.
While in fixed-wing mode, propulsion is provided by the drone's existing rear pusher prop. And FlyTech is quick to point out that the VTOL conversion doesn't affect mapping accuracy.
Pricing for the standard Birdie starts at €15,000 (about US$16,969). The company is now taking pre-orders for the VTOL module, and can be contacted via the link below.