Here at Drone Developer, we focus on custom UAS design and airframe modularity in order to provide our clients a competitive edge over off-the-shelf drone platforms. This has led to pioneering research in product family and reconfigurable design methods that can now be offered in commercial UAS. We also research hybrid forward flight & hover design concepts and internet-connected approaches to bring a new level of convenience and mission possibilities to the user.
Product family and reconfigurable design
Product family and reconfigurable design methods are seen in consumer goods big and small such as a lineup of GM automobiles or a set of power tools with interchangeable tool heads. In the aerospace industry, product families are seen in commercial airliners such as the Boeing 737 series aircraft. However, thus far these types of design practices have been largely absent in commercial UAS. Product family and reconfigurable design allows the pilot to fulfill very distinct mission profiles with a collection of airframe modules that can be optimally combined to produce a UAS variant without having to purchase a separate UAS for each mission. The advantage is obvious – reduced overhead and UAS product cost for the manufacturer and consumer.
Consider the following distinct mission profiles with endurance and payload requirements:
- Air Delivery – Low Endurance 3 hr; High Payload 16 lb
- Hyperspectral Imaging – Medium Endurance 9 hr; Medium Payload 8 lb
- Surveying/ Monitoring – High Endurance 18 hr; Low Payload 2 lb
These three missions can be accomplished with three completely separate fixed-wing UAS each designed to meet flight requirements, or they can be completed by configuring 3 UAS variants from a collection of optimized airframe modules that forms the UAS product family represented in the figure: