New Hampshire Patent of the Month – September 2021

Drones – and other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) – are designed similarly to planes or helicopters. So they either have rotary wings like a copter, or fixed wings like a plane. Recently, a new schematic has become increasingly popular, mimicking a helicopter’s hover and vertical takeoff and landing but with less complicated mechanics. Flight controllers can be used to better manage these rugged UAV’s but can have difficulty transitioning between the “hover” and “forward flight” modes. BirdsEyeView Aerobotics, LLC has designed a better control system for their VTOL aircrafts.

Their design uses an autopilot subsystem to output helicopter control signals and a separate subsystem outputting fixed wing control signals. A third transition control subsystem receives both the helicopter and fixed wing control signals. These are then calculated as a function of the transition percentage, along with some weighting factors which allow a smoother transition. Aircrafts that transition like this are normally manually controlled, and those that have tried to automate it regularly fail or are too rugged to be smooth. During transition periods, the UAV automatically adjusts airspeed. For instance, transitioning from hover flight to forward flight, the airspeed is increased and then the calculated control signals are applied. The key to making this happen is by mechanizing the thrust vectoring system and it’s logic. This allows the thrust vectoring to work in both the manual and autonomous flight modes. This should help improve the capabilities and potential applications of UAV’s.

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