GIC has completed the first field demonstration of its custom vertical take-off and landing fixed wing unmanned aerial vehicle (VTOL UAV) on July 3, 2020 at Mini RC Airfield in Klong Samwa, Bangkok, Thailand.

The demonstration served as an opportunity to showcase the VTOL UAV’s new telemetry system. Telemetry is handled by an innovative 4G setup that creates an improved connection between the UAV and base station for monitoring during missions. Previously, a  radio connection was used which quickly degraded beyond short distances. 

The most challenging aspects of the build were achieving proper motor alignment and tuning for optimum multi-rotor performance. In its current state, the VTOL UAV has an endurance of 36 minutes with 15% battery remaining.

The VTOL UAV was built and configured at GIC with parts sourced online for  a significant savings over commercial options. Initial planning and parts acquisition for GIC’s VTOL UAV started in May 2019. However, the majority of assembly and tuning took place from May –June 2020 during the COVID-19 quarantine.

The vision of the VTOL fixed wing configuration is to remove the limitations of fixed wing UAV by appending multiple rotors. LiPO battery powered fixed wing UAV missions can last 45 -90 minutes, considered “long endurance”. However, their design leads them to perform belly landings which cause stress to the fixed wing body; they also require large open spaces for take-off and landing. Multi-rotor UAV on the other hand sacrifice endurance for improved stability and vertical take-off and landing, opening options for launching/landing in more restrictive spaces. Fixed wing UAV equipped with a multi-rotor setup use the multi-rotors to launch and land, then transition to single engine fixed wing operation once airborne. 

Camera system configuration is currently underway. Once complete, the VTOL UAV will perform its first mapping mission later in July 2020.