The Telangana government’s hardware incubator and prototyping lab, T-Works, successfully designed, developed, and tested its indigenous vertical take-off and landing autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which covered 45km in 33 minutes.
This puts T-Works among the few organisations in India at present that can design, fabricate, integrate, and operate long-range vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) hybrid drones.
The airframe and its components were designed and fabricated by T-Works, using software design tools, 3D printing, laser cutting, and CNC routing machines currently available at the Phase-0 facility in Begumpet, Hyderabad.
The Airborne Medical Rapid Transport (AMRT25), with a 2.5m wingspan, is a hybrid UAV – launching and landing vertically like a conventional drone and then flying forward like a conventional winged aircraft. The VTOL motors are powered by a 10,000mAh battery and forward flight is powered by a 30cc gasoline engine.
A winged aircraft consumes up to 75 per cent less power than a conventional multi-rotor since the wings help produce the additional buoyant force. Which is why the AMRT design can carry much heavier payloads over much larger distances, said T-Works officials.
According to them, the next version will have a range of 100km with a payload capacity of 3.5kg. Added to this, a 5m x 5m flat clearing is sufficient to safely launch and land the AMRT25. This design uses the advantages of VTOL and fixed wing configurations.
Apart from medical supplies delivery, the AMRT25 UAV can be used for surveying, inspection, defence applications, surveillance, and as a testbed for experimental payloads.
It completed over 30 test flights over the course of a week passing various parameters such as maximum range, endurance, waypoint navigation, and return-to-launch capabilities.
The tools used for designing and constructing the UAV are also now available for the community to use and build UAV airframes or any other prototypes. Users can visit proto.tworks.in for instant quotations, design support and deliver-to-home options. Over 150 parts have been fabricated and delivered through the platform already.
T-Works CEO Sujai Karampuri said that for short flights and limited range, commonly available drones called multi-rotors are well suited to do jobs such as food delivery, photography, and videography.
“The best battery powered multi-rotors in the world are limited to a 40km range while the most common and affordable ones are limited to around 20-25km after which the battery must be recharged or replaced. For wider applications and to cover longer distances, say over 100km, with speed, we must break this range barrier. Here, fixed-wing VTOL UAVs are an efficient option,” he said.
“The first step to creating a culture for hobbyists, makers and innovators is openly sharing knowledge. All the information about how the AMRT was built, the problems we faced, and how we overcame them is already available online on the T-Works website. I am looking forward to seeing this spur enthusiasts to start building and flying UAVs. The new DGCA drone regulations have also increased interest in this segment and the need for talent will only grow from here. For the AMRT, this is only the beginning with several more enhancements to come,” he added.