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Oct 16, 2005, 07:18 AM
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John O'Sullivan's Avatar
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Long Distance UAV operation


Is anyone (commercial, military or independent), flying long distance (>200 miles each way), on a regular (or even one-off) basis?

I am well aware of the Aerosonde and Maynard Hill trans-Atlantic ventures, but these were specially planned missions. I am also conversant with the physical limitations of our aircraft and control systems.

The logistics, aircraft, power plant and fuel requirement and of course navigation and data transfer and communication would appear to be a formidable challenge. Added to this, would be hostile and unpredictable weather situations.

Is there anything out there available comercially to carry out such flights on a routine basis?

John O'Sullivan
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Oct 17, 2005, 12:33 AM
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LukeZ's Avatar
John,

I am not aware of anyone other than the people you already mentioned; however, this is my own personal goal that I am currently working towards. There's every kind of variation on the UAV theme in here, this just happens to be the one that interests me the most. I'm still a long way off, and in fact don't even have a flying platform at the moment. I'm taking the long route but learning a lot in the process. My goal is an autonomous flight of around 2,500 miles.

There have been a few threads on the challenge of long distance in this forum, such as this one.

I'm curious though; you seem to be asking with a purpose: are you interested in this for a specific type of mission? I'm interested in this if for no other reason than the challenge of it, but I have also tried to think of useful commercial applications that would depend primarily on the need for long distance, but have not come up with much. Be interested to hear your thoughts about it though.


Luke
Oct 17, 2005, 09:51 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by John O'Sullivan
Is anyone (commercial, military or independent), flying long distance (>200 miles each way), on a regular (or even one-off) basis?
I think it depends on your budget. Certainly airframes are available that will do this if money is no object.
Oct 18, 2005, 05:48 AM
They way i see it is that say you have a small plane like 60" electric, and that could maybe fly about 25-35 km using lipo's, including all the navigations, communication equipment. If you were to then get a bigger plane say 80" electric, and maybe bigger motor, and the same nav and comm equipment, proptionatly, you will be able to add some more weight to the plane, ideally lipo's. Hence it will travel further.

If your wanting to travel hundreds or thousands of km's, your going to need a large airframe to carry all the weight of the batteries (if electric), and since these are not commonly available, you'll probably have to construct your own custom airframe.

Have you guys thought about putting solar panels on the aircraft wings. You can get cheap little flexible solar panel modules (only like 1mm thin, weight virtually nothing), and if you cover you wings with them, then you will not need as big of a battery system. If your clever, only a backup battery for electronic systems, that charges during flight.
Oct 18, 2005, 03:01 PM
Regards power system for long range flight - gasoline engine comes to mind first.

Civil application? How about "expresser" (faster than express ) small package deliveries? It would have to be extremely reliable, and equipped with homing beacon or similar , in case it crashes.

It sure is easier to think of many military applications though.
Oct 18, 2005, 03:25 PM
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LukeZ's Avatar
"expresser"! I like it. In fact this was about the only civilian idea that I could come up with as well, but it doesn't seem too practical. Would it parachute the letter down? Maybe very large organizations with multiple offices around the world could use it as a personal courier service (they could also set up a small landing strip, so no parachute needed). However, with email and faxes and all that, it's hard to think of much physical stuff that really needs to get places all that fast, at least that would be better served by a UAV rather than what Fed-Ex can already do.

Still, I say build it and they will come! Who knows what applications might be thought up for it, once it's an option?

Luke
Oct 18, 2005, 05:45 PM
"FedEx insta-drive! An Expresser delivery!!

Your package will be dropped down to recipients driveway just few hours after you come to our new FedEx office!"


Or getting closer to our needs - Internet hobby shop "home delivery" for parts? When ordering - type in requested drop coordinates for fastest delivery

Hm.. nothing seems too practical. Important stuff will still have to be hand delivered. Not important stuff - will be shipped cheaper way.

Personal satisfaction of achievement sounds as a noble enough goal to me though
Oct 21, 2005, 03:08 PM
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Medve's Avatar
well, how bout, emergency drop of food, meds, or survial gear to a downed pilot in a rugged area, until full scale help can arrive. or in the places like Alaska where the cost of sending out a full scale helo is prohibitive, but a drop of medicine, or spare fuses for a radio, etc. would be doable.
Oct 21, 2005, 03:49 PM
Professor of Wood
kd7ost's Avatar
http://eduscapes.com/sessions/pigeon/pigeon1.htm
Oct 23, 2005, 12:19 PM
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fas350z's Avatar

Uav


Plenty of MAE UAV's, RPV's out there. What kind of payload capacity are you looking for.
Oct 23, 2005, 05:38 PM
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John O'Sullivan's Avatar
Thread OP
I started this thread to find out if anyone knew specifically of commercial sources of UAVs with proven records of being able to cover long distance (>200 miles each way with a 2-3 hour loiter) missions on a routine basis.

The challenge is a serious and factual one and the vague statement that there are plenty of MAE UAVs RPVs out there is not really addressing the issue.
I have done fairly extensive research into the problem and find that other than the military, only a handful of commercial suppliers have achieved these distances on a one-off basis. Even the military is not flying these distances on a routine basis and their one-off missions are not without teething problems.

I have a legitimate full size aviation client who has appropriate financing to develop the UAV, but there is no point in re-inventing the wheel if there are viable systems already developed.

I have been in contact with a couple of UAV manufacturers who appear to have the capability of developing such a system.

The navigation and relay of real time information are of prime importance, but the ability of the aircraft to consistently cover 12-15 hour endurance flights reliability would appear to be the most difficult phase of the operation. Although payload capacity is important, the equipment required should be well within the limits of the size aircraft planned.

John O'Sullivan
Oct 23, 2005, 05:59 PM
Registered User
The longest endurance/range electric UAV I have heard of so far is AeroVironment's Puma. I beleive it is somewhere between 2 and 4 hours endurance.

I just don't know if current battery technology has the energy density for anything longer no matter how big or small the airframe is.

If anyone knows of any electric UAVs that have significant range or endurance (> 4 hours) I would be interested in hearing about them.

As far as range, us non-military users have the line of sight problem. Maybe GSM or Iridium phones could be of help. I worked for a government esearch lab and we looked into using the Verizon 1x service for controlling a UAV. This works great as long as you are flying over areas with cell phone infrastructure.

Good luck.

Reed


Quote:
Originally Posted by John O'Sullivan
I started this thread to find out if anyone knew specifically of commercial sources of UAVs with proven records of being able to cover long distance (>200 miles each way with a 2-3 hour loiter) missions on a routine basis.

The challenge is a serious and factual one and the vague statement that there are plenty of MAE UAVs RPVs out there is not really addressing the issue.
I have done fairly extensive research into the problem and find that other than the military, only a handful of commercial suppliers have achieved these distances on a one-off basis. Even the military is not flying these distances on a routine basis and their one-off missions are not without teething problems.

I have a legitimate full size aviation client who has appropriate financing to develop the UAV, but there is no point in re-inventing the wheel if there are viable systems already developed.

I have been in contact with a couple of UAV manufacturers who appear to have the capability of developing such a system.

The navigation and relay of real time information are of prime importance, but the ability of the aircraft to consistently cover 12-15 hour endurance flights reliability would appear to be the most difficult phase of the operation. Although payload capacity is important, the equipment required should be well within the limits of the size aircraft planned.

John O'Sullivan
Oct 24, 2005, 12:51 AM
Professor of Wood
kd7ost's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by John O'Sullivan
I started this thread to find out if anyone knew specifically of commercial sources of UAVs with proven records of being able to cover long distance (>200 miles each way with a 2-3 hour loiter) missions on a routine basis. John O'Sullivan
That narrows it down. Here are two I know of that can meet your request today.

http://www.insitugroup.com/
http://www.aerosonde.com/index.php

Both of these companies have sub 35 pound aircraft that are capable of 15 or more hours of flight and loiter time.

Here's a 6 hour variant that is from the US like the insitu scan eagle.

http://www.spyplanes.com/bat3.html

Dan
Oct 26, 2005, 07:05 AM
Registered User
John O'Sullivan's Avatar
Thread OP
Thanks for the input. I am familiar with the Aerosonde and have checked the other two.
Some mining associates of mine have been flying airborne magnetic surveys for diamond exploration ( www.universalwing.com )
They are using a UAV by Dara Aviation ( www.daraaviation.com ) which I find particularly suitable.

John O'Sullivan
Oct 28, 2005, 04:11 PM
Professor of Wood
kd7ost's Avatar
I think one of their guys was on here once talking to us about it. We tried picking his brain and I think he decided not to divulge too much.

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=368905

Dan


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