Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
02 Jun 21. Skydweller Aero readies for first autonomous flight. US-Spanish aerospace company Skydweller Aero is gearing up to begin construction of a fully unmanned solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) following the latest milestone in the flight test campaign of its Solar Impulse 2 optionally manned prototype, company officials told Janes.
Skydweller Aero announced the successful flight demonstration of the prototype aircraft using an initial version of its in-house aircraft control, actuation, and sensor system suite – aimed at proving the efficacy of essential software and hardware components for the future unmanned aircraft – as well as associated enhancements to aircraft functionality including the sensor, computing, and communications infrastructure required to achieve autonomous flight.
The test flight was conducted at the company’s provisional site for ground operations and demonstrations in Albacete, Spain.
“The flight was two-and-a-half hours and the aircraft climbed to nearly 16,000 ft [4,876 m],” Skydweller Aero CEO Robert Miller told Janes.
“There was significant hardware – many parts in-house designed – installed as enhancements and upgrades to the initial aircraft, including advancements to aircraft functionality, including sensor, computing, and communications infrastructure required to achieve autonomous flight,” explained Miller, noting that the company already performed two earlier flights – in December 2020 and February this year – for aircraft check outs, functionality testing, and pilot certification.
“The aircraft has significant aeroelastic effects and so the location specific dynamics of the future INS [inertial navigation system] location was investigated,” he added. “Navigation systems were verified to ensure they do not have electromagnetic interference issues with the base systems.” (Source: Jane’s)
The British Robotics Seed Fund is the first SEIS-qualifying investment fund specialising in UK-based robotics businesses. The focus of the fund is to deliver superior returns to investors by making targeted investments in a mixed basket of the most innovative and disruptive businesses that are exploiting the new generation of robotics technologies in defence and other sector applications.
Automation and robotisation are beginning to drive significant productivity improvements in the global economy heralding a new industrial revolution. The fund allows investors to benefit from this exciting opportunity, whilst also delivering the extremely attractive tax reliefs offered by the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). For many private investors, the amount of specialist knowledge required to assess investments in robotics is not practical and hence investing through a fund structure makes good sense.
The fund appoints expert mentors to work with each investee company to further maximise the chance of success for investors. Further details are available on request.