Synergy UAV History

Synergy UAV History

I started experimenting with UAV's for agricultural crop scouting in 2010 using multi-rotor "drones". I was one of the first pilots in the US to obtain a Section 333 from the FAA to fly UAV's for commercial purposes. I quickly realized the limitations of the multi-rotor designs. They do not fly long enough, have poor stability and wind tolerance, and even the "professional" models struggle in the wide open spaces with the distances and wind. And they don't last - they are designed to be obsolete within one year of manufacture to try to get you, the consumer, to buy into the latest and greatest with the next model. Their software and hardware is also very poor and they are prone to "fly-aways".

I experimented with fixed-wing (airplane) designs. But the fixed-wing aircraft are normally foam construction, not very durable, have to be hand-launched, and in the field usually belly crash-landed because there is no suitable runway. It is not a good system to bash your expensive camera gear on the ground for landing. And the fixed-wing platforms are very intolerant of wind and are quite unstable, constantly being buffeted by turbulence. They are not a good platform to snap imagery for aerial crop scouting on anything but calm days.

So I went to helicopters. Heli's have all the advantages of multi-rotor aircraft - VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing), and can hover on one spot. They have the advantages of fixed wing - greater flight time, greater speed, greater payload capacity, and can be either electric or piston engine. But unlike fixed wing or multi's, they are very stable. So stable that a gimbal is not required for most aerial survey work. Helicopters, with their power, flight time and performance are a natural fit for flying aerial surveys out in the wide open spaces. There is very good reason they are used in the world of full-size aircraft for everything from crop dusting to air ambulance to being heavy lift flying cranes. All the characteristics that make helicopters the ideal plaform in full-size aircraft, doing jobs no other aircraft can do, applies to RC aircraft as well.


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