Transport Canada – that country’s regulatory agency when it comes to drones – has approved a Latvian drone that takes off like a helicopter and flies like an airplane for Advanced Operations in Canada. That means the unique Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft can commence operations. What makes it different? Have a look:
When you think of it, a quadcopter is a VTOL – as it takes off and lands vertically. But many industrial users are interested in a type of VTOL that also incorporates a fixed-wing. This style of aircraft is capable of transitioning between vertical and forward flight. Once in forward flight, the design takes advantage of the lifting power of an airfoil to fly forward with greater efficiency than a quadcopter. This increased range can be really useful when you want to inspect something longer – like a pipeline or road, for example.
Fixed-Wing VTOLs carry out that transition between the two flight modes generally in one of two ways: Either the motors change their angle to vector the thrust, or else the machine has motors dedicated to each task. The first way (with exceptions like the Wingcopter), involves using servos to change the motor angle, introducing a potential point of failure. The second way means that the lifting motors generally shut off during forward flight – so the drone is carrying essentially dead weight.
How FIXAR does it…
The clue here is in the name: FIXAR stands for “Fixed Angle Rotors.” That means the position of the motors does not change when the aircraft transitions. It is instead achieved through the precise angling of the motors in conjunction with software algorithms. The result is that all motors are constantly in use, but without any additional servos. FIXAR has patented the design.
Here’s what it looks like in flight:
Now, Transport Canada has approved the aircraft for Advanced Operations in controlled and uncontrolled airspace and near people. A FIXAR news release says the development comes as the company is entering the North American market:
We are thrilled with this approval – and to bring the unique FIXAR VTOL solution to North America. This design has all of the benefits of both quadcopter and fixed-wing drones, with none of their downsides.
Vasily Lukashov, FIXAR CEO/Inventor
On the ground…
FIXAR is definitely a different looking drone. Here are some images from its release:
And in the air:
And in its box:
The company says FIXAR is ready and capable of carrying out a wide variety of tasks in the commercial and enterprise fields:
This configuration, in conjunction with its two-kilogram payload capacity, makes the FIXAR ideal for a multitude of applications. These tasks include: Aerial photography and mapping/photogrammetry, laser scanning (LiDAR), last-mile delivery, precision agriculture, critical infrastructure monitoring and more.
The FIXAR drones also utilize Closed-Source software and proprietary hardware for additional safety and security, including data integrity. You can get find more information about them here.
Disclosure: I’ve done some work for FIXAR and was aware of these developments. I discussed there could be an apparent conflict-of-interest with DroneDJ’s Executive Editor prior to writing this piece and received permission to proceed. I will receive no compensation from FIXAR for writing this story – I genuinely think it’s an interesting design and newsworthy. Plus, the story is now ‘out there.’