This spectacular video was filmed north of Adelaide at our very first trial of our new Freespace Operations ‘CHAPPiE’ Beacon used in conjunction with our flagship Callisto 50 modular industrial multirotor UAS. Freespace Operations performed this initial road-based trial commanding the Callisto 50 to hold an offset distance, heading & height above ground from our 4×4 with the Beacon mounted on the bonnet. Driving at up to 80 kph maximum road speed we needed to prove the integrated system functionality prior to doing full ship-based trials later that month at the Autonomous Warrior 2022 event at Jervis Bay, NSW for the Royal Australian Navy.
This new technology has many prospective uses including allowing the ability for cargo delivery with moving ships in various ship-to-shore, shore-to-ship & ship-to-ship scenarios. Using Beacon with Callisto 50 (& future FSO aircraft) permits for the tracking, intercept, perch/hold-off position & landing/take-off from moving vessels which other precision landing techniques (such as visual QR codes) do not fully accommodate. Combined with Callisto 50 we can carry up to 25kg cargo in a single trip or spread across multiple delivery destinations.
Also the technology will allow for increased surveying potential under standard VLOS rulesets with the Callisto 50 being able to track a road vehicle with remote pilot onboard. An example is for an operations crew to drive along service roads dedicated to HV electrical pylons & other major infrastructure without needing difficult to obtain BVLOS permissions as the pilot will remain in clear VLOS with the aircraft at all times (aircraft will stay in fixed position relative to the road vehicle & pilot’s view)
For a brief technical description, the Beacon is an independently powered unit with a full ArduCopter flight stack configured with dual RTK GPS hardware in direct comms with Callisto 50 UAS via 915MHz meshed RF link. The ‘Freespace Operations RF Beacon’ hardware & software framework has been in the works for 3 years, beginning with the development of ArduCopter v4.1. It utilises Trigonometric S-Curve Navigation along with other new features coupled with LUA scripting working seamlessly with the industry-leading control precision & authority of the Callisto 50 UAS.