Dennis Menick of SwissDrones Operating AG says the built-in NovAtel OEM615™ receiver is a key component for the Dragon 50V2. SwissDrones developed the avionics for the new drone in cooperation with its partner, Switzerland’s weControl.
“We wanted to use weControl’s wePilot 3000 autopilot system,” says Menick, “and so we worked together with them to integrate it into our (UAV) systems. The result, among others, is the Dragon 50V2, the most stable and dependable medium-sized drone now on the market.”
weControl incorporates the OEM615 receiver card configured with GPS and GLONASS into its autopilot. Sébastien Rouault, an electronic engineer at weControl, says, “The GNSS module is more than important; it is mandatory for the autopilot to get data from such a receiver with good availability, a good level of sensitivity and without loss of positioning, and that is what the NovAtel equipment gives us.”
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Based in Sevelen, Switzerland, SwissDrones Operating AG describes itself as a young high-tech company that specializes in the development and production of unmanned helicopters for civil purposes. The company’s founder and CEO, Daniel Krättli, worked closely with the team at weControl to create the Dragon 50V2.
The relationship between the two companies began in 2012, says Menick, based on flexibility, short-time support, availability, professionalism and trust.
“On both sides, we are really interested in the Dragon 50’s success.” A sentiment wholeheartedly seconded by weControl’s Rouault.
The people at weControl have been working for the past 15 years on UAV autopilot systems and are widely recognized for the reliability of their products. In 2007, weControl merged with Survey-Copter, and in 2011 the new group became a subsidiary of EADS, now Airbus Defense and Space, part of the Airbus Group.
To work with SwissDrones on the Dragon 50V2 project, weControl put together its own crack team, which included its founder and president, Jacques Chapuis. Along with software engineer Florian Guerdat, Chapuis played a key role in defining the needs and developing the algorithms and software for the Dragon 50V2.
“weControl brings significant know-how and experience in the area of flight control algorithms,” says Rouault, “and we now continue to provide support in terms of software development for customization of the Dragon 50V2 system, both on the autopilot side and on the ground control station side.”
Menick says that weControl provides his company with various versions of its ground control station software, making available the necessary tailored interfaces for ground-based sensor operators. “With the wide variety of sensors we employ,” he says, “weControl is able to deliver to us adapted firmware packages so that the operator can achieve the optimal flight behavior with each sensor and sensor combination.”