Civilian drones have been around for years offering people the opportunity to do what they cannot normally do from the ground. Aerial photography, rescue missions, agricultural monitoring, air pollution watch, and even the all new drone racing. Two types of drones are mainly used today. They are helicopter-like machines and airplane-like machines. Both have advantages and limitations and the idea that two Dassault Systèmes´ employees had was to create a drone that combines the best of both. One that can take off and land like a helicopter yet fly like a plane.
It all began one day over coffee. Two colleagues, technology enthusiasts, had an idea on how to make a more versatile drone.
Only two types of civilian drones exist on the market. One is a Quadcopter or Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) that behaves like a helicopter and can take off and land vertically thereby requiring limited ground space. Quadcopters cannot, however, remain in the air for more than 15 minutes since they require a lot of energy to resist Earth´s gravitational pull.
The other type of drone is a flying wing, which is more like an airplane and that needs a lot of space to take off and land but has a higher level of autonomy.
Our two colleagues figured that by combining the qualities of both they could create a third type of drone that can be used in a wider range of situations. They invited other colleagues from diverse backgrounds to join them on their adventure and their efforts resulted in a 3.4-meter drone capable of taking off vertically and flying horizontally.
Their model was designed with applications from the 3DEXPERIENCE platform for styling, mechanical design, and aerodynamic simulations. They also connected a flight controller to simulate the flight via autopilot or in manual mode. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform´s collaborative capabilities enabled the entire team to work together in real-time and to make suggestions and modifications to the design on the fly.
The team test-flew a first prototype to validate its horizontal flight capabilities and a second prototype to showcase vertical take-off and landing as well as the transition from vertical to horizontal flight mode.
They did not, however, stop there. The team decided to put their designs on line, and to enable a community of drone enthusiasts created on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to improve on their concept.
They are hoping that the collective intelligence of this community will produce a more efficient drone. Some members may even be inspired to create their own startup to take this project to the next level. The 3DEXPERIENCE Lab can then provide this startup with support in the form of mentoring and access to Dassault Systèmes´ applications on the Cloud. Moreover, based on the open source principle, community members can download the design free of charge and fabricate a drone of their own on a 3D printer.
A way to democratize access to these flyer machines
The Dassault Systèmes drone enthusiasts come from different backgrounds: mechanical design, styling, system engineering, simulation specialists, and drone pilots. The community is composed of hobbyists, schools and research labs, FabLabs and just about anyone willing to contribute in an open source way.
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