Microdrone Navigates over the Alps with u-blox GPS

July 1, 2013  - By
Photo: Microdrones

microdrones, a German manufacturer of light-weight Vertical Take Off and Landing Vehicles (VTOLs), has successfully demonstrated a high-precision aerial journey over the Alps from Switzerland towards Italy with its 5-kg md4-1000 quadrocopter microdrone. Precise GPS coordinates and elevation, crucial for navigating obstacles and completing the flight in punishing weather conditions, was provided by an onboard u-blox GPS satellite receiver module.

Equipped with a high-resolution video camera, the autonomous microdrone completed 18 pre-programmed flight segments, mapping designated landmarks along the way. Here is a video showing it in flight.

“This successful journey of our microdrone demonstrates the robustness, reliability, and versatility of our autonomous drone technology which is being increasingly used for aerial mapping, surveying, search and rescue, security, utilities inspection, and aerial photography,” said Sven Juerss, microdrones CEO. “The md4-1000 was faced with intense wind and temperature fluctuations during its flight. It also had to navigate around power lines and a cable car during its more than 12 kilometer trip, which included a 1,600-meter change in altitude. This autonomous flight would not have been possible without the robust, ultra-precise, real-time satellite positioning technology from u-blox.”

“Fully automated devices are increasingly used to do tasks that are too costly and dangerous for human operators,” said Herbert Blaser, VP Business Marketing at u-blox. “The microdrone is a perfect example of a cost-effective, versatile, location-aware machine that allows people to collect important information at high altitudes from a safe, ground-based control center. This is an application that exploits all the features of our satellite navigation modules; fast, accurate-fix, low-power consumption and reliable operation in extreme environmental conditions.”

Several sponsor companies took part in the preparation and realization of this remarkable endurance test: Daimler AG made four Mercedes-Benz AMG support vehicles available, Sony Germany, Carl Zeiss AG and GPS/GNSS and wireless hardware and software developer u-blox contributed their audio, video and satellite navigation technologies to the project.

microdrone’s md4-1000 is able to fly autonomously for up to 88 minutes, and carry a payload of up to 1.2 kg.

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