Drones

Vogi VTOL drone uses swingin' props to keep things simple and efficient

The Vogi seen from the front, with its four main propellers tilted forward
The Vogi seen from the front, with its four main propellers tilted forward
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The Vogi's passive linkage mechanism
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The Vogi's passive linkage mechanism
The Vogi at ICRA 2019
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The Vogi at ICRA 2019
The Vogi seen from the front, with its four main propellers tilted forward
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The Vogi seen from the front, with its four main propellers tilted forward

Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) drones typically have four horizontal propellers for moving up and down, along with a vertical rear "pusher" prop for moving forward in more efficient fixed-wing flight. A new aircraft, however, uses the same four props for everything.

Known as the Vogi, the unique VTOL quadcopter is the product of Toronto-based startup Coriolis g. The company had a couple of prototypes on display at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation this week, and is interested in licensing the technology to other drone manufacturers.

When taking off and landing, the Vogi's four main propellers sit horizontal, as they would on a regular quadcopter. Once its operator (or autonomous flight system) puts it into forward-flight mode, however, an onboard sensor detects the change in thrust, and releases a linkage mechanism on the drone's undercarriage.

The Vogi's passive linkage mechanism
The Vogi's passive linkage mechanism

This allows the rear two props to swivel up relative to the drone's body, and the front two to swivel down, so all four can serve the same purpose as a single rear pusher prop – as is the case with other VTOLs, the lift provided by the wings then makes for more energy-efficient forward flight than would otherwise be possible. And once it's time to land, the change in the propellers' thrust causes them to move back to their horizontal orientation.

Importantly, the prop-swivelling mechanism is passive, so no servo motor or complicated programming is required for its activation. Additionally, according to Coriolis g design engineer Romain Chiappinelli, the Vogi also uses less power than traditional VTOLs.

"It's more efficient than a pusher prop," he told us when describing his company's system. "The same four propellers that are used to go up are also used to go forward, and having four propellers to go forward is more efficient than having only one."

The Vogi at ICRA 2019
The Vogi at ICRA 2019

That said, the prototype he showed us did have a fifth hard-mounted horizontal prop towards the back (where the drone is being held, in the photo above). It's used to modulate the angle of the fuselage, keeping it flat as the four tilting props change position.

You can see one of the other prototypes in action, in the following video.

Product website: Vogi

Vogi 1 Official Video

2 comments
paul314
Are the front props blowing air over the wing to increase lift? It's hard to tell. (And they might not even want to do that so much, because it could make control more interesting)
mediabeing
Oh boy! Something even more complex than a standard quad copter. Other than being able to go faster in forward flight, I don't see the attraction.