Vertical take-off and landing (VTOL)
The WingtraOne VTOL drone for mapping and surveying
Fly everywhere and avoid damaging your drone in belly landings
Fixed-wing drones have revolutionized the way professionals can map the world. However, the majority of their reliability and safety issues are related to their belly landings. Thanks to its vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability, the WingtraOne mapping drone combines the cruising flight efficiency of fixed-wing aircraft with the convenient vertical landing of multirotors.
In this video we see the WingtraOne VTOL drone taking off and landing vertically like a helicopter and tilting to forward flight mode to fly like a fixed-wing aircraft.
How does a VTOL drone work?
VTOL technology explained
The WingtraOne VTOL drone is a hybrid UAV made of only four moving parts: two rotors for propulsion, and two flaps for steering. This simple and sleek design is the result of more than seven years of research and development aimed at creating a more efficient and convenient way for fixed-wing drones to take off and land while carrying heavier cameras.
From sitting firmly on its tail, the WingtraOne soars vertically into the sky using its two rotors.
This take-off is fully automated and doesn’t require any piloting skills from the operator.
Using its two flaps, the WingtraOne tilts 90° to switch into a forward plane-like flight mode for the drone survey.
While using the same rotors as for take-off, WingtraOne flies at an airspeed of 16 m/s (57 km/h, 35 mph).
To finish its mission, the VTOL drone tilts again in the air with the help of its flaps.
It then lands on its tail fully autonomously at the exact same place where it started.
VTOL vs. standard fixed-wing drones
How does VTOL increase drone survey success?
Beyond take-off and landing positions, VTOL technology can have a massive impact on the success and cost of drone surveys.
No belly landing
A standard fixed-wing drone essentially performs controlled crash landings while “falling” on its belly. This can cause serious damage to the drone itself and its cameras. Continuous shocks also cause lots of reliability issues and reduce the lifetime of the drone. By comparison, the WingtraOne lands without damaging its high-end cameras or the drone itself.
Each landing is safe even on gravel over many landings.
Drone deteriorates with each landing and risks breaking on rocky terrain.
Easy and safe for the operator
The WingtraOne takes off autonomously and at a safe distance from the drone operator. This means that there are no “hand throwings,” and no more risks of a painful cut on rotors, as is the case with a standard fixed-wing.
Always safe distance
Operator and environment in danger
Ability to adapt to moving environment
Easy like with a multicopter
Fixed-wing piloting skills needed
Better payload protection
Standard fixed-wing drones land on their bellies, and their cameras face the ground as they take pictures. This makes them very vulnerable to abrasion, dust, dirt and snow, especially on rough terrain like that found in mining sites. Multiple landings can therefore compromise the operation of expensive cameras and the drones themselves.
Thanks to the vertical landing, WingtraOne’s cameras never come into contact with the ground, protecting these systems from environmental hazards.
Camera is protected from environmental hazards
Camera is vulnerable to abrasion and dirt
Heavier cameras for higher image quality
Standard fixed-wing drones carry light cameras of lower quality for two main reasons—they’re not powerful enough to take off with a heavier camera, and belly landings would be lethal for heavier drones and their cameras.
Thanks to VTOL, the WingtraOne can carry heavier and better mapping cameras such as the high-end 24 MP Sony RX1R II, enabling more precise aerial maps and better 3D reconstruction.
Stories on the WingtraOne VTOL drone
WingtraOne VTOL drone in surveying applications
The need for a rapid, cost effective solution for monitoring an endangered sea mammal species led the team at Murdoch University, Australia, to evaluate UAV solutions: they quickly found their match in WingtraOne.
We operate the drone from a boat. Without Wingtra’s ability to land in confined areas, we wouldn’t have been able to execute our research.
Murdoch University, Australia
The WingtraOne was exposed to some strong winds. If we had a standard fixed-wing it would be quite challenging out there. It was nice to have that VTOL capability and not have to worry about bringing it in. Sometimes, there wasn’t a lot of room to land.
RPAS Specialist, Geomatics, Strategic Natural Resource Consultants
Breaking from years of traditional oil spill survey experience, this resource consultancy firm took WingtraOne halfway around the world to improve response efforts on a high-profile incident.
The Norwegian Roads Administration has an ambitious zero-fatality road safety goal, and WingtraOne is helping them achieve it with way more efficient, cost-effective and accurate road surveys.
This 30 year-old coal mine is saving time and money with drone mining surveys and stockpile measurements.
In this webinar, we will talk about how VTOL drone technology helps professionals collect the high quality multispectral imagery over the most complicated terrains.
Learn how Swiss authorities are working with WingtraOne drone 3D maps to prevent rock falls and boost safety along a famous mountain motorway.
These are some of the largest aerial surveys by a drone, and WingtraOne made them possible [case study]
Learn how this company ran large aerial surveys covering hundreds of kilometers for massive, flawless, high-resolution maps based on WingtraOne drone data.
At a lofty altitude of 2500m above sea level, 20 wind turbines of 100m height are to be built. With the construction site in the middle of the mountains, there are no roads to access it, nor is there any pre-existing detailed data for site planning of the wind park itself.
About VTOL drones
- How to choose the best VTOL drones for surveying applications?
- Types of VTOL drones: tailsitter vs. quadplanes
- Comparison of two best VTOL aircraft for surveying
- The real cost of high-end commercial VTOL drone vs. cheap drones
- What are the different types of drones?
- What is a multicopter (or multirotor) drone?
- How can a rotary aircraft fly?
- What are fixed-wing drones?
- How can a fixed-wing drone fly?
- What are fixed-wing drones used for?
- What is the difference between fixed-wing and rotary-wing?
- What are VTOL hybrid drones?
- What does VTOL stand for?
- What is VTOL UAV?
How to choose the best VTOL drones for surveying applications?
Choosing the right drone is one of the most important decisions you will make for your aerial survey and mapping project. The decision will depend mostly on your specific application, and the image resolution, level of accuracy and coverage it requires. Costs will also play an important role. It’s important to think not only of the initial investment, but also of the maintenance and support costs of the drone during its lifetime, as well as the work hours required for training and operation. Below you will find a detailed comparison between two popular types of VTOL drones. You’ll also find insights about why purchasing a cheap drone for surveying might end up costing you more over the long run.
Types of VTOL drones: tailsitter vs. quadplanes
Quadplanes and tail-sitters are the two most widely-used types of VTOL drones. Both can take-off and land from confined areas, and both have the ability to carry and protect high-quality cameras. But some key differences will impact the speed, reliability and safety of their survey operations.
Comparison of two best VTOL aircraft for surveying
The WingtraOne, from Wingtra, and Quantix are the two most advanced professional VTOL drones. Both of these hybrid drones feature VTOL and fixed-wing technology. They take off, land and fly well. Most importantly, you get rid of risky belly landings. But that’s where the similarities stop.
The real cost of high-end commercial VTOL drone vs. cheap drones
VTOL drones are pretty new systems in the world of unmanned aerial vehicle technology. They are also more expensive than standard fixed-wing aircrafts and multirotor drones. Yet if you need a professional survey and mapping solution, drone cost is directly linked to the time and money you’ll save on your projects.
What is a multicopter (or multirotor) drone?
Multicopter (rotary aircraft or multirotor) drones (think DJI) are the most common type of entry-level professional drone on the market. They feature several rotors creating both lift and propulsion. They are mostly used in aerial photography and videography, due to their ease of control and their ability to take-off, hover and land vertically. These drones are good at flying a camera over photo subjects but only for a short period of time. Indeed they use a lot of energy, as the rotors need to lift the weight of the drone as well as move it forward.
How can a rotary aircraft fly?
Rotary-winged aircraft are equipped with rotors that generate vertical thrust by diverting the air downwards. This thrust acts against gravity, pushing the aircraft into the air.
What are fixed-wing drones?
Fixed-wing drones are airplane-like. They are mostly designed for the professional market. They use a wing to provide lift rather than vertical-lift rotors. This design means that they can fly forward more efficiently than multicopters, increasing greatly their endurance. For this reason, they are particularly good at mid-and large-scale drone survey missions and mapping of long corridors such as roads, railway tracks, pipelines and rivers. However they need a large, relatively soft landing space, free of hurdles like rocks, gravel, trees, buildings, etc. For take-off, some even require a catapult.
How can a fixed-wing drone fly?
Fixed-wing drones feature a wing and propellers. The propellers enable forward propulsion and speed. At a certain airspeed, the shape of the wing passively generates the lift that keeps the drone in the air. Fixed-wing drones require an external force to take-off, like a hand-throw or a catapult. They also require adequate space and terrain to cruise closer to the ground for a distance before belly landing. Some systems, like the WingtraOne drone, also feature VTOL capability, making the runway unnecessary.
What are fixed-wing drones used for?
Fixed-wing drones are used in many applications, such as surveying and mapping; mining, agriculture; research and environmental monitoring; construction; inspection and surveillance. They are good at capturing images and data over mid and large distances, that will later on be processed to get insights on the physical world.
What is the difference between fixed-wing and rotary-wing?
Fixed-wing aircraft feature a wing and forward propulsion, such as turbines or propellers, which generate thrust (speed). At a certain airspeed, the shape of the wing provides the lift that keeps the aircraft in the air. Airplanes are fixed-wing aircrafts.
Rotary-wing aircraft feature rotors consisting of blades (wings) that rotate. The rotors generate vertical thrust by diverting the air downward. Typical examples of rotary-wings are helicopters and multicopter drones.
What are VTOL hybrid drones?
VTOL hybrid drones are systems combining the strengths of both multirotors and fixed-wings. They have the ability to take-off, hover and land vertically like a helicopter, so they don’t require runways or advanced piloting skills. And they feature a wing, which allows them to fly over a larger area efficiently, like an airplane. See Quantix vs. WingtraOne for a comparison between two of the most popular VTOL drones for surveying applications. In fact, some VTOL hybrid drones, like WingtraOne, are able to carry heavier and better cameras than fixed-wings since they offer a safe, controlled landing instead of a belly landing.
What does VTOL stand for?
VTOL stands for vertical take-off and landing. It describes aircrafts and drones (unmanned aerial vehicles / UAVs) able to take off, hover and land vertically, like a helicopter. The most common type of VTOL UAVs are multicopter drones. The other types of VTOL UAVs are a hybrid of both hovering capability and a conventional wing design for cruise flight.
What is VTOL UAV?
A VTOL is a UAV that is able to take off, hover and land vertically like a helicopter, thanks to rotors. This term applies to all multicopter drones and some hybrid fixed-wings.