Today, inspection and measurement tasks that require a long range and operational time are usually usually performed by manned aircraft. This results in considerable costs, high loads and risk for pilots, crew and material. On the other hand, available unmanned autonomous systems are located in the high-priced market segment and mainly in the military field of application. Within the course of the ELCOD (Endurance Low COst Drone) project we aim for satisfying this requirement and filling up this gap. The EU funded ELCOD consortium consists of the three academic partners at the IUAS at the University of Applied Sciences Offenburg, the INSA Strasbourg and the CNRS/ICPEES Strasbourg as well as various industrial partners.
In particular, the following goals are envisaged…
- An increase in the range of the UAV up to several thousand kilometers with simultaneous cost reduction. For this purpose, a comprehensive specification for the individual areas of aerodynamics, structure, dynamics, control, drive, communication u.a. created.
- Reducing environmental impact while increasing range by developing and optimizing two propulsion systems (thermal engine and fuel cell). These are compared in terms of efficiency, pollutant emissions and consumption.
- The development of dedicated sensors for the measurement of air pollution and meteorological variables for use in a long-range UAV and flight duration.
- The production of dedicated tools and molding and fabrication elements for the fast reproduction of the UAVs. The joint use of numerical control and 3D printing for the machining of different parts of the drone. The production of three marketable prototypes, as well as the demonstration and execution of long-distance test flights, is also planned.
The scope of application for such an UAV is extremely versatile, since the aircraft is completely autonomous in operation, failsafe, all-weather capable as well as easy and economical to manufacture. Possible areas of application can be:
- Typical weather data measurements in otherwise difficult-to-access areas,
- Long distance airborne measurements of contaminant, air pollution, radioactivity, photo-oxidizing impurities and many more, in order to better understand the transport processes,
- Assistance with agricultural invesigations, plannings, observations and optimizations e.g. Image analysis, infrared and others,
- Monitoring in various fields of application such as sea and land flora and fauna, logistic infrastructure, electrical energy supply installations etc.,
- Access to areas limited by emergencies, crises and pollution,
- Border security,
- Traffic monitoring.