Knysna in Western Cape is home to ALTI, manufacturer of a range of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to meet the growing demand for aerial security and surveillance.
The company designs and builds a complete fleet of advanced endurance vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aircraft and supporting systems, including avionics and ground control systems. ALTI offers three aircraft, the Ascend, Transition and Reach, all suitable for a variety of applications.
With a wingspan of just two metres, the ALTI Ascend is the smallest UAV produced by the company, owned by Duran de Villiers.
Proof positive size isn’t everything comes with the vertical take-off and landing Ascend having an endurance of up to six hours. During this time the UAV can travel up to 450 km.
The Ascend uses batteries for VTOL capabilities and a petrol-powered internal combustion engine for fixed wing flight. An advanced carbon fibre airframe and efficient aerofoil design maximise performance and endurance. The airframe contains an integrated fuel tank, washout winglets, dual elevator control surfaces and quick lock wing latches requiring no tooling.
The Ascend UAV has a sophisticated datalink in combination with top antenna systems to deliver telemetry and real-time video footage to a ground control station operator during flight.
The ALTI Ascend has a running cost of under R50 an hour and can be deployed from carry case to the air in 10 minutes.
ALTI UAVs are designed primarily for security and surveillance applications and the Ascend can be fitted with a Night Hawk 2 EO/IR payload. Other payloads can be integrated and ALTI stand ready to meet customer demands.
The Ascend’s small size and VTOL capabilities make it well suited for other applications including conservation where limited space for take-off and landing can present a problem for conventional UAVs, ALTI said.
Ascend is currently deployed in Misool as part of ALTI and the Misool Foundation’s long term conservation project working long-range patrols in the greater Misool area of southern Raja Ampat in Indonesia over a 1 200 square kilometre area.
According to its designer and manufacturer, Ascend is well-suited for security and surveillance missions done fully autonomously, reducing human risk and needing zero operator input. “It is an ultra-compact next generation hybrid aircraft that can outperform any competitor on endurance in the same weight class,” the company claims.
The Ascend is available either fully assembled ready to fly and either unassembled airframe or base kit as an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) product for custom drone manufacturers.
ALTI’s UAVs are marketed for a multitude of roles, including security and surveillance, mapping and photogrammetry, defence and security applications. They can be equipped with electro-optical/infrared payloads (such as the Trillium HD25, HD40 and NextVision NightHawk2) for day/night operations and mapping payloads, among others. A search and rescue version has also been developed.
Since establishment, ALTI has shipped more than 1 000 unmanned aircraft. It is currently working on new products, including a new multi-rotor and all-electric VTOL range as well as 19 and 21 foot unmanned surface vessels.