Affordable Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) will revolutionize activities and tasks ranging from sports photography to infrastructure inspection to academic research. For years, technologists have been promising that this revolution is just around the corner, yet our expectations haven’t been met. The UAir team set out to deliver on these expectations with the R10 Quadrotor, a product that we think makes aerial vehicles truly accessible.
Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) are an extremely important modern technology, with many groups considering using MAVs for various applications.
- Researchers and Educational Institutions (from secondary to postgraduate studies) no longer have to struggle finding platforms within their academic budget which are capable of performing their airborne experiments in an extremely wide range of fields from real time complex PID optimization algorithms to air quality sampling.
- Search and rescue operators and first responders no longer have to operate blind in dangerous environments or rely on expensive alternatives like helicopters for real time aerial intelligence.
- Journalists and photographers no longer cover difficult or dangerous events, are unable to perform without putting their crew in harm’s way, have to rely on bulky and extremely expensive equipment, or simply can’t gain full access to the story.
- Surveyors, conservationists, and farmers no longer cover large areas on foot or in ground vehicles, or deal with the high cost of manned aircraft or expensive UAVs.
- Engineers are no longer forced to prematurely shut down expensive and dangerous oil and gas facilities, railroads, and other types of infrastructure to perform inspections.
Until now, in all of these applications, the cost and complexity of operating MAVs have presented barriers to widespread adoption – often the financial outlay for a single MAV ranges from a thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, and operators invest significant time in pilot training. As a result, many industries that could benefit from ubiquitous micro air vehicles have been unwilling or unable to invest and recoup the many benefits.
From the early days of design and prototyping to it’s current form, we built R10 to be a development platform, a workhorse if you will, to explore the incredible potential for MAVs and robotics. By bringing down the cost for a powerful and customizable aerial platform the future is full of exciting opportunities. We think R10 will be a useful tool for researchers, enthusiasts, and the development community to offer new applications and work alongside us to build the future. We’re using the R10 as a platform for future aerial utility vehicles.
R10 Quadrotor: simple, capable, affordable.
To address the problem of high-cost MAVs, we put our best engineering minds to work to reduce the cost without sacrificing performance. We designed the system to make use of modern mass-manufacturing processes such as laser-cutting, as well as modern aluminium alloys; we designed a smart frame design and low-cost high-performance electronics; and we developed advanced stabilization and positioning software to automatically stabilize and in some cases pilot the craft. The result is the R10 Quadrotor, a reliable micro air vehicle that is both simple to operate, and very low cost, making micro air vehicles accessible to everyone. R10 is able to not only take on duties that previously required costly air crews, trained pilots, or expensive MAVs/UAVs, but to do so very affordably; now anybody from professionals to enthusiasts can own an R10, and operate their own micro air vehicle, or swarms of micro air vehicles
The R10 is designed to allow payloads such as cameras or sensors to be attached, for use in a variety of tasks. Yet the R10 Quadrotor’s low cost and accessibility means that it’s also an extremely fun radio-control aircraft to fly: more maneuverable than fixed-wing models, yet safer and more durable than model helicopters; making it perfect even for enthusiasts.
The R10 Quadrotor is the workhorse of quadrotors; designed to act as a highly capable, versatile, yet low-cost and easy-to-fly aerial platform.
See our website for more details: www.uair.co
The R10 Quadrotor is a multi-rotor craft, using four rotors to generate lift and hover.
Throughout the design process we have carefully considered each component that makes up a quadrotor, selecting the most suitable off-the-shelf parts for the best price-to-performance ratio, and where no suitable component exists, developing our own, focusing on low cost, high performance, and easy assembly.
The frame of the craft holds the motors rigidly at a fixed distance apart, and provide a structure to attach the rest of the flight electronics, batteries, and payload. Our R10 frame was designed using a slot-together system of laser-cut aluminium alloy elements. The design minimises the resistance to airflow from the rotors, and maximises the strength and stiffness while minimising weight.
Aluminium alloy is an ideal material to use for this kind of quadrotor, providing high strength and durability at low weight and cost, and more importantly the material can be easily drilled, sawed, or riveted as needed.
The frame is also modular, allowing individual R10 units to be linked together; simply clip two or four R10 systems together with the frame connector kit, and load the R10 Duplex/Quadruplex firmware to produce a larger multi-rotor craft that has higher lift capabilities and more redundancy.
The flight electronics in the R10 consists of four three-phase brushless outrunners, four ESCs to drive them, and a 3S LiPo battery pack. The motors and props, and battery are standard off-the-shelf components, meaning that that users can easily purchase replacement or upgrade parts that would be compatible with the R10. The ESCs are custom modified for enhanced multi-rotor performance.
The R10 Standard loadout uses 12A motors for good battery performance and light duty, while the R10 Advanced loadout uses upgraded 20A motors for extra lifting capability or better performance.
The default 2200mAh LiPo battery pack can similarly be upgraded for higher capacities and flight times.
Our flight controller, Thalamus, was designed from the ground up based on the powerful yet low cost NXP LPC1347, a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller clocked at 72MHz. The flight controller contains fully-integrated sensors; 3-axis gyroscope, 3-axis accelerometer, and 3-axis magnetometer, which allows the microcontroller to handle the stabilization of the craft. Thalamus receives manual control input from an attached 2.4GHz full-range (DSM2 Spektrum-compatible) receiver, and controls the ESCs via hardware PWM outputs.
The choice of components and compact design minimises the cost of the flight controller, while still allowing plenty of performance. The processing power afforded by the on-board ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroler allows Thalamus to work as a stand-alone stabilisation controller, or alternatively, the native USB capabilities of the microcontroller (USB HID, USB Serial Port, etc.), or the SPI data channels allow Thalamus to act as a peripheral to a computer system, or a slave board for another microcontroller system. This means that it is possible to control Thalamus and R10 using small computer systems such as a Raspberry Pi or Pico-ITX/PC-104 computer down to other microcontrollers such as the Arduino. This flexibility allows users to interface with the quadcopter and develop high-level control applications using any platform with a USB Host port or SPI port that they are familiar with.
The software that runs on the controller performs the sensor fusion and control loops needed to keep the craft stabilised, as well as implements the other features such as different flight modes. We developed the software from the ground up, and we have released the code as open source, allowing you full access to the system, and freedom to completely modify and change the control system. Our function libraries allows quick and easy access to all the sensors and hardware on Thalamus.
The firmware on Thalamus can be easily updated simply by plugging it into a computer via USB, where it will appear as a removable disk, simply erase the old firmware by dragging it to the Recycle Bin, and load the new firmware by copying the firmware file onto the disk! No special programming cable or dongle required, just a standard mini-USB cable!
An R10 system with the R10 flight controller can be controlled using an RC transmitter and flown manually. The system can be extended by adding Hypo, the GPS/Telemetry expansion board. Hypo contains the same LPC1347 microcontroller, but is fitted with a GPS module and an XBee radio. Hypo plugs into one of Thalamus’s SPI expansion ports, and provides a plethora of new features, ranging from the ability to communicate position and telemetry details to a ground station laptop, autopilot, waypoint (point-and-click) flying, and follow-me mode.
Like Thalamus, Hypo can also be interfaced to a computer or another microcontroller system via USB or SPI, alternatively additional sensors can be plugged into Hypo’s expansion ports to use Hypo’s telemetry link for real-time data-transmission.
The telemetry link between Hypo and a laptop also allows the R10 to be controlled using a standard USB gamepad or joystick.
We are continuing to develop improvements, enhancements and upgrades to the R10 system, for example we’re developing an integrated camera gimbal for the R10 that provides a stabilised bracket to mount cameras, allowing for wobble-free aerial video; and a suite of gas and particulate sensors, allowing the R10 to perform duties such as surveillance, surveying, and airborne sensors.
- Frame diagonal length (motor-shaft span): 400mm
- Frame-only weight: 173g;
- Weight including 2300mAh LiPo): 700g (Standard)
- Recommended maximum flight weight: 1100g (Standard), 2100g (Advanced)
- 9DOF Thalamus flight controller
- 2.4GHz 7-channel (DSM2 Spektrum-compatible) receiver
- 400Hz multirotor optimized 20A ESCs
- 2200mAh 25C 3S LiPo battery
- Open source user-upgradeable firmware, with update over USB
- Simplicity and Acrobatics mode.
- 72MHz 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller (NXP LPC1347)
- 64Kb Flash memory, 12kB RAM, 4kB EEPROM
- 3-axis Accelerometer (linear accelerationmeasurement)
- 3-axis Gyroscope (angular velocity measurement)
- 3-axis Magnetometer (magnetic field measurement/digital compass)
- Native High-speed USB 2.0 capability
- Three SPI ports (on two SPI channels) for connectivity with other microcontrollers/expansion boards
- Six hardware PWM outputs on 3-pin connectors compatible with digital servos and ESCs
- Analog input 0V-25.2V LiPo battery voltage measurement (up to 6S)
- 4-pin connector compatible with 4-pin (5V, Trigger, Echo, GND) ultrasound ranger modules
- 3-pin connector compatible with DSM2 Spektrum-compatible satellite RX receiver, with hardware bind control
- 30mmx50mm footprint
Which reward should I choose?
I just want to fly quadrotors!
If you just want to step outside and enjoy flying these things, whether you’re an experienced flyer, or this is your first foray into flying craft, then you would be interested in the $370 reward where you will get a standard R10 quadrotor system as well as an RC transmitter and battery charger, everything you need to fly them. If you’re already a keen RC aircraft flier and already have a Spektrum transmitter, then the $300 reward is for you. If you’re one of the lucky early backers, the $270 reward is our way of thanking you for believing in us.
You will receive comprehensive instructions on how to assemble and fly the craft, and you can always contact us for support!
I’m a quadrotor enthusiast/builder!
Good for you! You can take parts of our R10 system and use them in your own quadrotor projects, we have a wide range of rewards just for you!
Please note: we are making it our goal to dispatch your rewards so that they arrive in time for the Holidays, however we are dealing with an international supply chain and so there may be delays that are out of our control.
*We will keep you updated with the status of the project and revised dispatch date estimates.
All backers will be forever immortalized on our Partners page:http://uair.co/partners, pick the name you’d like displayed, and your own message.
UAir is not only committed to making micro air vehicles accessible, we are also committed to making tasty beverages accessible.
It’s important to wear clothes. Here’s our T-shirt. Join the club! Note: T-shirt designs and colors will vary.
R10 Slot Frame System
With these reward options, you receive the R10 frame. You can use this to build your own quadrotor, you will need: motors, ESCs, battery, and flight controller. Don’t forget to check if your motors’ mounting points are compatible!
With these reward options, you receive a Thalamus flight controller. You can use this with an existing quadrotor frame. But it’s not just a quadrotor flight controller, with some simple software modifications, it can be used as the flight controller for fixed-wing or other types of rotor craft too!. And not only that, it’s a general purpose IMU board suitable for use in robotics, connect it to your other projects using SPI or USB Host.
With some reward options, you will also receive a 2.4GHz (DSM2 Spektrum-compatible} receiver, allowing Thalamus, and whatever project it is connected to, to receive up to 7-channels of remote control signals from a Spektrum transmitter.
With some reward options, you will also receive a Spektrum DX4e transmitter, allowing you to remote-control your Thalamus.
With these reward options, you receve a Hypo GPS/telemetry board. You can use this with Thalamus, or with other quadrotors, MAVs, robotics project, microcontrollers, or computers that have an SPI or USB Host port. Hypo then allows your aircraft, robot, or project to receive GPS information, as well as communicate with a ground control station.
With these reward options, you receive the R10 Standard quadrotor kit, which includes everything you need to build one R10 Standard. The full parts list include:
- Nuts and bolts
- 2.5mm Allen key
- 4x 12A brushless outrunner motors
- A full set of counter-rotating props with spares
- 4x UAir “Series 1” 20A multi-rotor ESCs
- 2200mAh battery 3S LiPo 25C discharge
- Wiring harness
- 2.4GHz (DSM2 Spektrum-compatible) receiver
- 4x Lycra/spandex velcro cable tidy/frame protectors
- 4x Rubber bumpers
Note: To fly the quadrotor, you will additionally need your own transmitter and a battery charger. With some options you will receive a Spektrum DX4e transmitter. Unfortunately we cannot supply battery chargers at this time.
With these reward options, you receive the fully upgraded R10 quadrotor, which includes everything in the Standard loadout, but with the following:
- 4x 20A motors (instead of 12A motors)
- 4x Pneumatic landing gear (instead of rubber bumpers)
- Hypo GPS/Telemetry unit
- 2.4GHz telemetry antenna
- GPS antenna
Note: To fly the quadrotor, you will additionally need a transmitter and a battery charger. With some options you will receive a Spektrum DX4e transmitter.
UAir Founders visit you
With this reward option, we travel out to meet you for one day. We can give a talk and demonstration at your organisation, school, or college, or we could just hang out and fly quadrotors all day. You also receive an R10 Advanced quadrotor kit. Please contact us before choosing this option if you live outside North America or Europe.
Be our next product
With this reward option, our next product will be named after you, and you will be the figurehead of that product. You also receive two R10 Advanced quadrotor kits.
UAir is a “fabless” company; as a young company, we do not have the capital to invest in in-house fabrication, so we outsource it. The benefits of doing so means that even as a small company, we are able to make use of many more materials and production processes in our design than we could possibly handle without outsourcing. Removing this constraint has allowed us to design R10 using the best selection of materials and processes for the product. While additionally this represents lower capital costs of producing products, as well as the ability to quickly pivot our production to meet changing customer demands and requirements without having to spend or waste money on retooling.
The various designed aspects of the quadrotor are outsourced to fabrication companies, this ranges from laser cutting, to PCB fabrication and assembly, to printing and finishing processes; other parts are made-to-order such as wiring harnesses and antenna assemblies; and the remainder are standard off-the-shelf parts such as motors, batteries, and fasteners.
Once the fabricated and purchased parts arrive, we perform some final production steps required to integrate the parts into the product, such as re-terminating wires and loading firmware, then we separate parts into individual kits, assemble and test-fly each R10 Quadrotor system, and finally disassemble kits, and package them for shipping.
- Design frame and mechanics: DONE!
- Design and layout flight electronics: DONE!
- Produce prototype microcontrollers and PCBs: DONE!
- Build and test full R10 system prototypes: DONE!
- Test firmware, common applications, control etc: DONE!
- Evaluate production partners, part suppliers, and get quotes and turn around times: DONE!
- Complete firmware programming: In Progress!
- Fund first full production run: This is where we need your help!
- Start full production run: If funded this will start within a few days of the completion of this project or as soon as we have a large enough batch order!
- Test fly final product: We will film and post test flights online so you can see your quadrotor being tested (time permitting)!
- Deliver finished R10s!
To ensure the highest quality and quick turnaround, R10 will be packaged in-house and fabrication will be executed by a vetted list of companies who have a history of supplying Universal Air with parts and support. This will also allow us to quickly bring you future hardware updates and applications, and future products!
RISKS AND CHALLENGESLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
Currently the biggest unknown in the development process is the upgraded electronics, the original Forebrain/Seraphim stack that was used in the R7 is being upgraded by Thalamus, a new design that vastly reduces the cost of the quadrotor. However it uses a different accelerometer/gyroscope chip, and this change represents some risk; while on paper the specifications of the chip indicate that it should be more than capable of performing the task, it is always difficult to predict real-world performance without testing. We remain optimistic about how the new chip will fare, all signs indicate that it should match or better our existing prototypes.
The upgraded layout of the digital systems represents a not inconsiderable chunk of work – the new electronics effectively separate the low-level stabilisation and angle control from the high-level GPS positioning and navigation onto two physically separate microcontrollers (Thalamus and Hypo), whereas the system previously used one microcontroller board (Forebrain) and one sensor board (Seraphim). This split means reworking the flight code that is currently being used in our test craft, and extensive flight testing to ensure that there were no errors during the process.
A final challenge is the quality and timeliness of some parts, as several parts originate in China; there is always a risk of receiving sub-standard quality parts (as many Kickstarters have found), or parts being held up in customs (as we have experienced before). We are lucky enough, through multiple iterations, to be working with suppliers in China who have continually demonstrated an ability to reliably supply high quality parts, and have earned our trust and continued support. For the R10, we are also actively exploring sourcing more parts from US companies, doing so not only lowers risks and delays but also helps businesses we believe in.