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Development of the Flying-Dock, a novel concept in the field of Unmanned Aerial Systems, is well under way. This innovative system renders feasible a massively increased range for autonomous aerial vehicles via air-to-air refuelling, thus greatly expanding the operational envelope and functionality of mUAVs.
The concept of air-to-air refuelling has greatly expanded the operational envelope of fighter jets by massively improving their range, yet a similar approach applied to UAVs, especially VTOL vehicles, is yet to be implemented. Micro UAVs are exceptionally advantageous for specific missions due to their compact size and, when VTOL capable (e.g. quadrocopters) for their agility and operational flexibility. The benefit of micro-level surveillance is of particular importance in certain types of missions thus rendering the use of quadrocopters the optimal choise. However, the limited operational range can signifficantly limit their operational capabilities. AuVeTech’s Flying-Dock addresses this issue and proposes a combinatory surveillance scheme through the use of autonomous airships and quadrocopters. The airships serve as an ideal mean of long endurance macro-level surveillance platform but also as a docking station for the quadrocopters. The Flying-Dock device developed by AuVeTech, presents an efficient and modular solution that allows for simultaneous docking and air-to-air refuelling of mUAVs, thus massively expanding the operational envelope in a wide range of surveillance missions.
The Flying-Dock development is progessing rapidly. AuVeTech boasts leading expertise in virtual development techniques and the device is being optimized through a series of simulated mission scenarios. The animations presented below cover the docking phase of a quadrocopter on a Nurflügler type airship performing a u-turn manoeuvre. Attaining precise collocation of the two UAVs requires precision that exceedes the performance of DGPS therefore a number of sensors is undergoing testing for maximum efficiency. Animations derived from simulations ofextended mission scenarios will follow, so stay tuned!