The key to commercialising UAV services is proving that your platform is reliable, durable, and failsafe over a long period of operating time, with consistent results.
If your platform is well-built and provably reliable, it opens up the route to lucrative regulatory approvals. As we know, the unmanned autonomous industry, of which BVLOS is a big part, is about to launch into a massive growth phase.
In this article, we will try to help you understand the five key elements to creating the most reliable unmanned autonomous platform.
Why it’s so hard to get regulatory approval
As an emerging industry, there are still many performance blind spots in the BVLOS space. To eradicate known failures, manufacturers will be asked to stress test their systems repeatedly in different environments, and prove that it’s a reliable failsafe system.
Each of the five main platform elements involves different aspects of reliability, including component manufacturers who are working hard to prove their durability over time.
When is the best time to create a partnership with component manufacturers? How can the best partners be identified in advance? And what are the key indicators to look for when choosing component manufacturers?
We understand that integrating an external component and/or system takes a lot of trust and is a leap of faith in some ways. We’ll help you answer these crucial questions. Here’s what to consider with each of the five elements:
1) Flight Management System
To get regulatory approval, your flight management systems need to make the most of emerging technical innovations to create failsafe communications that can command and control your UAS fully autonomously.
Pay attention to potential partners who can show that their systems have accumulated lots of hours of testing and application. The regulators view it favourably when a company can show that it has tested its products over a long period in several environments.
Flight management systems need to show they have a solution that requires little customisation. They must also be able to show tangible results like improved fuel efficiency, reduced operating costs, improved safety, and of course certifiability.
2) Failsafe Systems
A failsafe system ensures the safety of human populations and key infrastructure in the event of an in-flight accident.
One common failsafe system is the parachute option. This is where an on-board computer diagnoses a problem and deploys a parachute. A drone that has lost all control can be a flying weapon as it descends to earth.
Other failsafe options include an on-board sensor system that can restore equilibrium when one or more rotors are lost. This is achieved by inducing yaw forces to stabilise the average force of the remaining propellers.
3) Detect and Avoid
BVLOS flights use GPS tracking to map out obstacle-free routes. If an unknown obstacle enters its path, or if a moving object like aircraft or wildlife move into its path, situational awareness could avert a disaster.
Current commercial solutions include a bumper solution which uses sensors to scan a distance of about 10-40m around the aircraft. The solution is not suited for commercial operations, as they often fly at faster speeds over much large ranges.
Situational awareness and collision avoidance are currently an important piece of the jigsaw puzzle of reliable unmanned autonomous platforms.
4) Platform Structure Durability
The quality and durability of the overall platform over time could be the difference between achieving regulatory certifications or not. Industrial drones operate in extreme temperature and pressure zones. They are also likely to face high levels of shock and moisture.
These stresses can break a vulnerable structure easily. It’s important to anticipate the effects of these stresses very early in the design process. Regulators will look favourably upon structures with a long track record of durability in the face of harsh conditions.
So, selecting component partners should be done carefully. It’s important to understand that components that commonly fail are minor components like capacitors, connectors, and even solder joints.
Finding a high uptime connectivity solution is an enormous challenge. UAVs rely on conventional communications provided by cellular network operators or long-range radio frequency (which is less scalable for BVLOS operations). A gap in network coverage could be fatal. Companies that achieve a modular, flexible, and adjustable communication pipeline will bring multiple failsafe options to the table, and are favourable in the eyes of regulators around the globe.
Elsight’s Halo connectivity platform combines different communication methods to achieve one solid communication pipeline. The advantages of using existing technologies in a hybrid and modular way is a key element in receiving regulatory approvals. Relying on one communication method, even when talking about failover capabilities just isn’t enough. Halo utilizes all communication methods available in the area to create a reliable, stable connection to operators.
There are so many companies that can boost the reliability of unmanned aerial platforms. Many of those companies have accumulated the operating time to ensure their reliability, and they can prove it too.
Regulators place a premium on reliability and safety. If you are looking for regulatory approvals, then you must make sure the system is reliable, safe to operate, and with multiple failsafe capabilities. Don’t be afraid to perform rigorous due diligence before partnering with someone. Provable operation time is your best route towards expansion and commercialisation.
Written by Asaf Raz
Marketing director, Elsight