XM2 Labs revs up retractable landing gear for Alta X drone

XM2 Labs Alta X

Australian cinematic drone equipment specialist XM2 Labs is rolling out a lightweight yet reliable retractable landing gear upgrade for the FreeFly Systems Alta X drone favored by movie producers worldwide.

Melbourne-based XM2 Labs says its new SLG-20-AX retractable landing gear innovation offers the combination of easy mounting and use, along with lightweight but fully dependable performance after takeoffs and ahead of landing. A leader in Australia’s drone cinematography sector, XM2 says the SLG-20-AX is ideal for use with the DJI Ronin 2 and the Freefly MoVi Pro, and was specifically manufactured for operation on the Alta X.  

The company, which creates and markets an array of specialized drone accessories tailor-made to UAV use in movie making, describes its system as a ready-to-bolt-on-and-fly improvement over existing options. Those, it says, are generally designed for smaller craft and fitted to the heavy-lift Alta X. As a result, they can be overwhelmed by powerful prop wash when trying to retract – or end up fried and unable to respond to the bell when commanded to drop back down.

To get around that, XM2 Labs has integrated powerful Hitec servo motors calibrated for peak performance that proved reliable during testing on the Alta X during both phases – even with rotors blasting at full force. Developers have also designed the SLG-20-AX for fast and easy installation on the UAV, using lightweight materials that can be removed from the main anchoring manually.

“A design consideration of ours was to make everything as tool-less and lightweight as possible, while still retaining durability for heavy duty operation,” says Luke Annells, an engineer with XM2 Labs, which has worked with Disney, Marvel, Warner Brothers, and others in adapting drones for feature film use.

The SLG-20-AX will be looking to unseat the Aero landing gear – a fixed tripod configuration attached to the gimbal frame – as the most frequently used mechanism on Alta X drones for shooting movies.

“Since the Aero landing gear is attached to the gimbal, the drone operator needs to carry around a bulky stand to mount the drone until the gimbal is ready,” explains XM2 Labs engineer James Mare. “When flying in windy situations, or on uneven ground, the drone may start to spin on the gimbal before takeoff, and landing can be tricky due to the small footprint of the tripod gear.” 

A company press release provides a full list of features as follows:

  • Fail-Safe Function: if something happens to the pilots controller, for example it switches off, the landing gear will automatically come down so that the Alta X can land safely.  
  • Tool-less release of vertical tubes 
  • High grade rubber springs and conformal coated electronics installed to help resist corrosion 
  • Ball bearings in all moving parts 
  • Titanium Gear Hitec Servos 
  • Dedicated user interface for calibration & feedback 
  • Professional support provided by XM2 Labs Australian team of engineers 

After a three-year development period, XM2 Labs is now offering the SLG-20-AX retractable landing gear system for the Alta X in two versions: either 600mm tubing designed for use with Freefly MoVi Pro gimbals, or and 700mm tubing for use with DJI Ronin 2 gimbals. Both are priced at $3,300.

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