According tomedia New Atlas, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) drones have some advantages over other types of drones. But it also has some drawbacks, and The Fixar, made in Latvia, is designed to solve this problem. The VTOL takes off and lands like a helicopter, but transitions to faster, more efficient fixed-wing flight during cruising. This means they don’t need a runway, but they also use less power than quadcopters in forward flight.
Typically, they have four (or more) horizontal propeller/motor units for vertical movement, and a vertical rear propeller/motor that propels the aircraft forward during cruising. But once the drone does enter fixed-wing mode, the four vertical propellers are turned off, creating aerodynamic resistance.
One alternative is to use propellers that are tilted horizontally to verticals by electric, although this adds complexity, weight and power to the machine. Instead, Fixar’s four propellers/motors are mounted on a frame that swings forward and backward relative to the rest of the drone.
During take-off and landing, the frame is adjusted horizontally to the aircraft’s fuselage so that it can be used as a quadplane. However, once the fixed wing is used, the torque of the front propeller decreases and the torque of the rear propeller increases. This causes the frame to tilt passively forward, so it and the connected propeller are now perpendicular to the rest of the drone.
As a result, only four (instead of five) propellers are needed, and they won’t be idle at any time, and no servo system is required to tilt them. And because Fixar’s wings provide lift during cruising, the motor doesn’t have to work as hard as the motor on a quadplane when flying forward. A similar system has been used in Coriolis g’s Vogi drone, although it uses more complex linkage settings.
A Fixar representative said their company’s drones have a maximum flight time of one hour, a top speed of 72 km/h (45 mph), a payload capacity of 2 kg (4.4 lb) and the ability to fly fully autonomously, starting at $20,000.
Interestingly, the drone was recently approved by Transport Canada for advanced operations in controlled and uncontrolled airspace and near people in the country.