New safety system puts a stop to emergency drone crashes - RC Groups
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May 09, 2015, 08:23 PM
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New safety system puts a stop to emergency drone crashes


Drones are super cool, but what happens when you lose control and they free fall to the ground, especially with an expensive camera on board? We decided to add an extra layer of protection with SmartChutes. SmartChutes is an autonomous quadcopter recovery system that automatically deploys when an in-flight emergency (free fall, tumble or flip) is detected. Just install SmartChutes on your multicopter using two bolts and go! Made of carbon fiber, the lightweight parachute system uses an integrated gyroscope and accelerometer to rapidly deploy the chute at the first sign of danger. Plus SmartChutes uses its own battery, so its 36" canopy will trigger even with a total power failure! SmartChutes will not interfere with normal camera or gimbal placement, and remains operational out of range and completely eliminates the need to buy an aftermarket transmitter.

Check out SmartChutes on Kickstarter at:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects...ecovery-system




Thanks very much for your time. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
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May 09, 2015, 09:51 PM
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z28_ta's Avatar
The "drone" model you got there don't crash. They fly away lol..
May 10, 2015, 01:22 AM
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I guess thats only good if you don't flip your Quad or do fast maneuvers that would freak the gyroscopes out and cause the chute to deploy.
May 10, 2015, 05:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Vampy
I guess thats only good if you don't flip your Quad or do fast maneuvers that would freak the gyroscopes out and cause the chute to deploy.
Thanks for the input. The gyroscope is extremely accurate, so as long as you don't do any acrobatic rolls/flips, which most gimbal/camera equipped Phantoms and aerial photography multicopters won't, you are good to go.

If you are flying low and fast FPV, this system isn't for you. It was designed to help mitigate the risk of losing a camera/gimbal equipped multicopter at altitude.
May 10, 2015, 09:58 AM
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I like the idea. Is there an option to manually trigger it via a channel on the RC? Would it also be capable of being triggered via failsafe?
May 10, 2015, 10:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NXTized
I like the idea. Is there an option to manually trigger it via a channel on the RC? Would it also be capable of being triggered via failsafe?
The parachute deployment is controlled by the on-board SmartChutes flight sensor.

The fail-safes:
The parachute will be deployed if the SmartChutes flight sensor detects that the multicopter has entered free fall, or if the multicopter has tilted more than 90 degrees.

If you want to manually deploy the parachute, kill the throttle on your transmitter, and the multicopter will enter free and deploy its parachute automatically.

The main idea behind having the flight sensor control the parachute deployment autonomously:

1: An autonomous parachute recovery system with its own power source will allow you to protect a multicopter from total power failure. (many parachute recovery systems under $500 do not even offer this feature.)

2. Most parachute recovery systems require you to buy an after market transmitter in order to have the extra channels required to operate the servo that deploys the parachute, and a gimbal at the same time. The SmartChutes system eliminates this problem by allowing the parachute deployment process to be handled by the flight sensor, allowing you to keep your stock transmitter.

3. Speed. If you manually have to think about deploying a parachute,, you are losing valuable time. We designed the SmartChutes system to operate along the same manner as a car's emergency airbag system. When an emergency is detected, an airbag is deployed. The car does not wait for the user's "permission" to ask if it can deploy the airbag, it just does it.

Thanks for the interest. Please let me know if you have anymore questions!
May 10, 2015, 10:58 AM
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PatR's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartChutes
Thanks for the input. The gyroscope is extremely accurate, so as long as you don't do any acrobatic rolls/flips, which most gimbal/camera equipped Phantoms and aerial photography multicopters won't, you are good to go.

If you are flying low and fast FPV, this system isn't for you. It was designed to help mitigate the risk of losing a camera/gimbal equipped multicopter at altitude.
Leaving the DJI bashing behind, will your future systems be sized to meet the needs of the various weights and sizes of commercial MR's or is your product going to be limited to the Phantom class of MR's?

Another question relates to the altitude of the aircraft necessary for full deployment of the parachute to obtain maximum effectiveness?

What is the reduction in impact velocity?

Is the system designed to place the MR generally on the landing gear after the descent?

What would be the corresponding weight increase for the addition of a parachute system for a copter corresponding in size? Percentages are good but specifics to a class of MR would be better. Say 600mm @ 5500g/800mm@8500g /1200mm@ 14,000g?
Last edited by PatR; May 10, 2015 at 11:05 AM.
May 10, 2015, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatR
Leaving the DJI bashing behind, will your future systems be sized to meet the needs of the various weights and sizes of commercial MR's or is your product going to be limited to the Phantom class of MR's?

Another question relates to the altitude of the aircraft necessary for full deployment of the parachute to obtain maximum effectiveness?

What is the reduction in impact velocity?

Is the system designed to place the MR generally on the landing gear after the descent?

What would be the corresponding weight increase for the addition of a parachute system for a copter corresponding in size? Percentages are good but specifics to a class of MR would be better. Say 600mm @ 5500g/800mm@8500g /1200mm@ 14,000g?
Yes, we do plan on increasing our line of parachute recovery systems in order to accommodate larger multicopters.

Just to be on the safe side, we recommend flying above 50 meters when using the SmartChutes recovery system. We are going to start testing lower altitude parachute deployments once we produce more SmartChute units.

Right now, we have a rough estimate of 14-12 fps rate of descent. (for the prototype system used in the video.) We are going to be using more efficient parachutes in our final design.

Yes, we are going to aim to have the multicopter land on its landing gears.

Based on a parachute with a drag coefficient of 0.75.

A rough estimate is as follows:

10 lbs multicopter: 96" parachute for 15 fps

20 lbs multicopter: 135" parachute for 15 fps

We are still testing/refining our final parachute design for the production run of our SmartChutes product, so the above numbers are just estimates because we have not determined our final drag coefficient.
May 10, 2015, 12:22 PM
If it flies, I can crash it.
rocketsled666's Avatar
Hmmm... I had a power failure (battery connector was damaged and I didn't realize it when I plugged it in. In flight it heated up enough to melt the plastic connector body and the connection went open-circuit) on my hex while in hover at about 5', which resulted in an impact velocity of about 17fps (if I'm doing my math right). I busted pretty much everything hanging down under my copter - landing gear, gimbal, camera, video transmitter/antenna, plus two arms. Based on my experience, 15fps seems on the high side for survivability. I'd suggest you consider a bigger 'chute.

Also, how does the 'chute deploy? I'm assuming mechanically, not explosively? What is the typical deployment time?
May 10, 2015, 03:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocketsled666
Hmmm... I had a power failure (battery connector was damaged and I didn't realize it when I plugged it in. In flight it heated up enough to melt the plastic connector body and the connection went open-circuit) on my hex while in hover at about 5', which resulted in an impact velocity of about 17fps (if I'm doing my math right). I busted pretty much everything hanging down under my copter - landing gear, gimbal, camera, video transmitter/antenna, plus two arms. Based on my experience, 15fps seems on the high side for survivability. I'd suggest you consider a bigger 'chute.

Also, how does the 'chute deploy? I'm assuming mechanically, not explosively? What is the typical deployment time?
15 fps is the industry standard for UAV parachute recovery.

If your parachute is too small, they are ineffective, and too large, and you're subject to stability in the wind (and your multicopter being dragged across the field ). Anyway, it's much more complex and interesting than it might seem at first.

The parachute is deployed when a servo moves a latch that releases the parachute. We didn't want to mess with explosives, as we doubt the FAA would be too happy with that.

The parachute deployment canister is spring powered, so it's very safe to operate, as well as being extremely lightweight. (You wouldn't believe how much trouble it was to have custom springs made for this. haha )
May 10, 2015, 04:10 PM
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Would it be possible to support you on kickstarter, but don't take out any thing before you have something bigger, and pay the difference between shop price of both items? (if you understand what I mean).

The price is good, and I was about to contribute, but I have no rigs that is this small.. And I'm guessing the store price would be mutch higher after kickstarter (based on experience from other things I've put money on in there)
May 10, 2015, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tormodnt
Would it be possible to support you on kickstarter, but don't take out any thing before you have something bigger, and pay the difference between shop price of both items? (if you understand what I mean).

The price is good, and I was about to contribute, but I have no rigs that is this small.. And I'm guessing the store price would be mutch higher after kickstarter (based on experience from other things I've put money on in there)
I think I understand what you are saying. You want to pre-order a larger parachute recovery system than what is being offered, and pay the difference once it becomes available?

If you pledge for the normal $130 Early Bird Special, I will put a note next to your name, and give you a discount on the larger system once it becomes available. Please just message me with your full name once you make the pledge. Thank you!!
May 10, 2015, 07:56 PM
If it flies, I can crash it.
rocketsled666's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartChutes
15 fps is the industry standard for UAV parachute recovery.

If your parachute is too small, they are ineffective, and too large, and you're subject to stability in the wind (and your multicopter being dragged across the field ). Anyway, it's much more complex and interesting than it might seem at first.
Standards can "assume" a lot of different things. Because it's a standard doesn't make it right (which is probably why there are so many different standards). Whether or not you've made the right choices depends on your design goals and objectives. There are a number of factors that'd result in a different definition of "UAV Parachute Recovery" depending on your priorities. For example, commercial users may be more willing to accept higher levels of damage in order to minimize how far the object will drift on descent, they fly in urban environments where collateral damage might be more of a concern. Hobbyists are going to care more about minimizing damage. How high you typically operate would also likely be an important factor. If I'm flying at 400 feet, I'm not going to want a long slow descent, I'm going to want to minimize drift to control how far I'm going to have to hike to get to where it ultimately lands. But if I'm flying at 100 feet, I can and would happily tolerate a much slower rate of descent to better protect my airframe and payload.

Also remember, typically the camera system is slung under the airframe. As a result it's usually the first thing to hit the ground in a crash, and then the rest of the mass of the copter hammers the camera in to the ground a little bit more, just for good measure. The height you'd need to free-fall from to achieve 15fps on contact with the ground is a little under 5 feet. I know from my own experience, a 5 foot drop can do serious damage (about the only thing that I didn't bend or bust was the battery pack).

Don't get me wrong, I realize that a 15fps drop is a lot better than an unretarded fall. But it feels too fast to me. IMO, of course. Not trying to pick a fight.
May 10, 2015, 08:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocketsled666
Standards can "assume" a lot of different things. Because it's a standard doesn't make it right (which is probably why there are so many different standards). Whether or not you've made the right choices depends on your design goals and objectives. There are a number of factors that'd result in a different definition of "UAV Parachute Recovery" depending on your priorities. For example, commercial users may be more willing to accept higher levels of damage in order to minimize how far the object will drift on descent, they fly in urban environments where collateral damage might be more of a concern. Hobbyists are going to care more about minimizing damage. How high you typically operate would also likely be an important factor. If I'm flying at 400 feet, I'm not going to want a long slow descent, I'm going to want to minimize drift to control how far I'm going to have to hike to get to where it ultimately lands. But if I'm flying at 100 feet, I can and would happily tolerate a much slower rate of descent to better protect my airframe and payload.

Also remember, typically the camera system is slung under the airframe. As a result it's usually the first thing to hit the ground in a crash, and then the rest of the mass of the copter hammers the camera in to the ground a little bit more, just for good measure. The height you'd need to free-fall from to achieve 15fps on contact with the ground is a little under 5 feet. I know from my own experience, a 5 foot drop can do serious damage (about the only thing that I didn't bend or bust was the battery pack).

Don't get me wrong, I realize that a 15fps drop is a lot better than an unretarded fall. But it feels too fast to me. IMO, of course. Not trying to pick a fight.
We appreciate the input.

So far we have not damaged any of our multicopters equipped with the SmartChutes system, but we are still continually working to improve this system (namely reducing the fps like you suggested).

Everyday we learn something new, and our team's primary goal is to create an affordable recovery system that will allow your multicopter (and camera) to return to earth unscathed.
May 10, 2015, 09:10 PM
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PatR's Avatar
What about the possibility of an associated auto inflating air bag system such as those used on some UAV's that also have a parachute deployment system? Something like that affixed to the landing gear that deploys with the chute would just about make for a near damage free recovery.


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