Technical articles about Alpha 800 UAV
Autonomous landing on moving platforms is very complex. Maritime autonomous landings are particularly challenging given meteorological conditions, radio interferences and other important variables which frequently affect autonomous landings.
One of the most repeated questions from our customers is: Why did you choose to build a helicopter instead of a multirotor UAV?
Alpha Unmanned Systems improves product reliability using HALT!
Alpha knows that reliability improves “;minute-by-minute,” Madrid based Alpha Unmanned System, SL proudly announces that its High Accelerated Lifetime Testing (HALT) solution is now in production!
This means that Alpha’s engines and transmissions will be tested in “;near-flight” environments for significantly longer periods of time and in environments more similar to actual flight. Longer and more realistic testing means greater fault identification which will result in more reliable platform design and manufacture.
The HALT will also be used to define the maintenance periods of Alpha’s new helicopter platform, (expected in H2Y20). It will also be used to execute the STANAG defined engine endurance tests and to fine-tune the fuel injection system.
“Testing is critical for flight reliability and safety. The incorporation of the HALT will dramatically increase the testing hours that Alpha Engineers can use to improve design and manufacturing. We expect to dramatically improve our platform quality and reliability through this innovative and necessary tool”, states Álvaro Escarpenter, CTO and co-founder of Alpha.
In order to easily test the complete helicopter, including the engine and transmission systems, Alpha has designed and manufactured its own test bench (HALT) on which its helicopters will be able to test multiple engine and transmission loads in a precisely controlled environment. The HALT will also
simulate endurance and life cycle tests in “near-flight” conditions.
Engine and transmission systems are especially critical for helicopter platforms. Since testing and validation exercises are time consuming and costly, and since industrial systems must be tested for thousands of cycles during development, Alpha’s expects to dramatically improve the airworthiness of its helicopter UAV platforms using HALT.
Automatic autorotation now available
Alpha Unmanned Systems and UAV Navigation jointly announced today the introduction of a fully automatic autorotation feature on the Alpha 800 platform that sets it apart from its competitors.
Autorotation, a critical capability for helicopters in case of engine or tail rotor failure, is described as ‘gliding the craft’, something all manned helicopter pilots are trained to do. It is notoriously difficult to achieve and therefore takes extended practice. In the case of a UAV helicopter, no automatic autorotation has been possible… until now.
First of its kind
The new capability represents an important step forward in that it enables a UAV in distress to be safely landed. Minimizing risk to people and property on the ground, it also greatly increases the likelihood that the payload and other expensive components on the platform will be recovered.
Alpha Unmanned Systems and UAV Navigation have been collaborating on this technology for several years, the robust Alpha 800 fitted with sensors and hardware to feed the necessary information to UAV Navigation’s VECTOR autopilot. The Alpha 800 platform has proven to be very effective for developing software as well as for extensive simulation with an advanced Hardware In the Loop simulator. Actual flight-testing confirmed the results with repeated successful landings following autorotations from a variety of altitudes, wind directions and headings. In all cases, no engine power whatsoever was supplied to the rotors.
Autorotation is just one of the safety features provided by the VECTOR autopilot to the ALPA 800 UAV. The system is also capable of flying in GPS-denied environments and in situations where the onboard Magnetometer is unavailable.
The Alpha GCase DUO is a ruggedized portable stand-alone control station designed to operate in harsh conditions and with enormous flexibility.