Avior Labs unveils new VTOL UAV

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Centurion-based unmanned aerial system designer Avior Labs unveiled a prototype of its new Elevation VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle).

Elevation is a versatile, multi-role VTOL fixed-wing drone allowing for optimal utilisation and reduced fleet requirements, the company said. Fully electric with 90 minutes useful flight time in standard configuration, it is well suited for surveying areas of land parcels of larger than 200 ha as typically found in sub-Saharan Africa. At these larger areas the endurance of a VTOL drone is increasingly beneficial.

With a 2.54 metre wingspan, the drone is typical quadcopter configuration for a VTOL design, unusually using a novel single pitching motor (tilting propeller) on the nose for flight efficiency, creating a low noise footprint.

“The reduced noise of a single tractor configuration is a big plus, especially in some conservation applications, but there is also significant performance advantage in terms of endurance for given battery capacity,” Dr Bennie Broughton, Managing Director of Avior Labs said.

The maximum take-off weight is 4.6 kg, allowing a payload of up to 750 g while meeting all applicable safety standards for legal operations.

Outer wings are detachable for transport and ease of assembly, allowing the drone to be packaged in a convenient box that fits in the boot of a car.

Multiple payload options are available, such as the Basler Ace Visual HD camera, FLIR Vue Pro thermal camera, MicaSense RedEdge multispectral camera, a SONY RXR II digital camera and the Basler Ace and FLIR Vue Pro combination.

Avior Labs said typical applications include the mining, energy, construction, agriculture and conservation industries.

Established in 2019, Avior Labs specialises in development and manufacture of efficient commercial unmanned aerial vehicles, associated technologies and software.

The company has designed and built aerial vehicles to develop and validate technologies, these have also been used in support of computational modelling on behalf of its clients. Elevation is the first drone designed by Avior Labs for commercial drone operators and service providers.