The HiDRON stratospheric glider, a joint project between UAVOS and STRATODYNAMICS, has successfully carried out its regular test flight. UAVOS’
operators launched the stratospheric aircraft from a high-altitude balloon carrying a
technology supported by NASA’s Flight Opportunities program successfully deploying
an experimental payload to 24 km altitude and back.
Extensive testing was performed to test operation in high altitude flight regimes utilizing UAVOS’ autopilot system and payload test services. A launch routine was tested allowing a safe transition from free-fall to stable horizontal flight in thin air after being dropped from the balloon. UAVOS’ autopilot system has once again proven its superior long-range performance Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) capabilities.
The payload was a combination of forward-sensing turbulence detection technologies
developed by the University of Kentucky (UK) in Lexington and NASA’s Langley Research Centre in Hampton, Virginia. The flight test aimed to help researchers assess the performance of a wind probe from the UK along with an infrasonic microphone sensor. Together, the instruments are designed to aid forward-sensing turbulence detection for unmanned aerial vehicles, commercial aircraft, the urban air mobility market, and the on-demand drone delivery sector.
Nick Craine, Stratodynamics’ business development lead, comments:
“While the company has conducted pre-flight testing with the licensed sensor, the most recent flight was the first fully complete payload test in an operational environment. Another flight campaign is forthcoming at Spaceport America in late April. This experiment enables cross-validation of the sensor with UK’s technology.
The HiDRON glider powered by the UAVOS autopilot enabled the instruments to capture wind velocity, direction, magnitude, and low-frequency sound waves in a flight environment not possible with a passive lift-and-drift balloon flight profile alone.”
“Flying an unmanned aerial vehicle inside the stratosphere means operating it outside visual line of sight, in low pressures and cold temperatures. These environmental conditions pose many challenges to the UAV aerodynamic design, the autopilot system and the ground infrastructure. We’ve tested the autopilot setup and analyzed flight test results from every phase of the mission. The lessons learned from this test flight will be focused on the future high-altitude missions as well as future Mars analogue flight concepts”, said Aliaksei Stratsilatau, CEO and Lead Developer at UAVOS.
“The advantages of using this type of aircraft – a balloon launch with a glider recovery – has a lot to do with the conditions needed to test our instruments,” said Sean Bailey, principal investigator for the innovation at the University of Kentucky.
“The sensitivity of the sensor actually increases with higher velocity. So, it’s not something you could get to work on a conventional balloon because the airflow wouldn’t be fast enough.”
UAVOS is a developer and manufacturer of security and commercial solutions based on advanced Unmanned Systems with an international investor base. UAVOS technology, products, and tailored services include multi-role UAVs, unique proprietary autopilot, advanced communication systems, UAV components, and performance-based training.
UAVOS is involved in stratospheric R&D projects having developed the HiDRON
meteo missions stratospheric glider and the HAPS ApusDuo autonomous aircraft ready to deliver missions from the stratosphere. UAVOS’ mission statement is to create the right partnerships and shared goals with customers worldwide in order to build mutual capabilities of technologies and innovation for the benefit of our partners and customers.
About STRATODYNAMICS Inc.
Stratodynamics Inc. is an Earth Observation service provider pioneering new, dynamic methods of high-altitude, airborne earth observation using uncrewed aerial vehicles flown Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS). Stratodynamics also provides turbulence detection solutions for the aviation and urban air mobility sectors utilizing licensed NASA technology.