Why Wingtra

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 aircrafts with the convenient vertical landing of multirotors.

VTOL drone switching from take-off to cruise flight
Play Video

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

1 Rotors 2 Flaps

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.

VTOL drone taking off

Take-off

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.

VTOL drone tilting and flying like fixed-wing uav

Flight

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).

VTOL drone landing

Land

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.

Manual take-over

The operator can take control of the drone in both cruise and hovering mode with the remote control. In hover mode, the drone operator can navigate WingtraOne in all possible directions.

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.

Take-off and land anywhere

Confined forest areas or gravel open-pit mine terrain are no longer obstacles. WingtraOne can take off and land everywhere, smoothly.

VTOL drone takes-off anywhere

VTOL
Very little space is needed

Fixed-wing drones need large landing area

Other fixed-wing
Large area for take-off and landing is needed

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.

VTOL drone lands safely

VTOL
Each landing is safe even on gravel over many landings.

Fixed-wing drone performs dangerous belly landing

Other fixed-wing
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.

VTOL drone safe for operator

VTOL
Always safe distance

Fiexed-wing drone is a danger for the operator

Other fixed-wing
Operator and environment in danger

Ability to adapt to moving environment

In case of a changing landing environment, like a drifting boat or recently parked cars, the landing spot can be adjusted via remote control, just like any standard multirotor drone.

VTOL drone can be adjusted manually

VTOL
Easy like with a multicopter

Fixed-wing drones require piloting skills

Other fixed-wing
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.

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.

Read more about image quality

Stories on the WingtraOne VTOL drone

WingtraOne VTOL drone in surveying applications

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.

Amanda Hodgson
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.

Mike Morellato
RPAS Specialist, Geomatics, Strategic Natural Resource Consultants

3D reconstruction Swiss Alps
Case study

VTOL drone WingtraOne brings wind energy to the Alps

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.

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, andthe 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.

Tailsitters vs. quadplanes – why a VTOL tailsitter is the best surveying drone for your mapping missions

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.

Ultimate comparison of image quality, usability and specs of WingtraOne and Quantix

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.

4 reasons higher survey drone cost saves time and money

VTOL FAQ

What are the different types of drones?

There are 3 main types of drones:

What is a multicopter (or multirotor) drone?

DJI quadcopters propellers

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?

Multirotor (quadcopter) drone hovering
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?

Launch of a fixed-wing drone (ebee)
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?

Orthophoto from drone survey
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 vs. quadcopter drone

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 drone taking-off
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.

Why Wingtra

42 Megapixels / 0.7 cm (0.3 in) GSD

Best image quality in the industry for the highest map quality and accuracy

More about image quality and GSD

Save time

Up to 80% faster surveying operations compared to terrestrial surveying and multicopters

How to save time with WingtraOne

Our experts can
  • Answer any questions about the WingtraOne
  • Talk about your business and operational needs
  • Advise you about drone use
  • Provide you with a quote
Used by professionals around the world

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