Today we saw the first flight of the new test platform for the first stage of the FieldHawk development program. The overall development road-map to a full-size prototype has been broken out into three distinct stages:
- Flight computer and Autonomous Navigation Test Platform – a 1.8m wingspan commercially available fixed-wing drone airframe used purely to test the autopilot, FPV remote operation, and other electronic sensors such as LIDAR and sonic precision altimiters.
- Sub-scale model of the FieldHawk design in the 6′-10′ wingspan range – built using the same methods as the final, full-size prototype to prove out and fine-tune the manufacturing process, distributed powertrain, and aerodynamics. This stage will also include a prototype of the hopper, pump, and nozzle/rail system, as well as being the subject for low-speed wind tunnel testing.
- Full-size prototype in full 36′ wingspan will be constructed for final flight testing and integration of all systems.
Today’s initial flight tests were conducted under some rough weather conditions – winds of 16mph with gusts to 21mph. The platform selected proved to be very stable in the wind, though, and aside from a rough landing and the need to reduce aileron travel, no negative tendencies were noticed.
This program is the brainchild of the CEO of VUGA Enterprises, LLC and head of the FieldHawk UAV project, Gene Avakyan. A full slide deck presentation of the project is available by contacting him at [email protected] . We are currently looking for aerial application operators or farm operations that would like to be the first in line for in-field testing of the full-size aerial application platform we are developing when the final prototype is available.