The unmanned aircraft department participates in the development of new techniques for parachute deposing and landing systems.
Focus is the development of automatically controlled parachute landing systems, for example for the safe and precise landing of space capsules or the deposing of sensitive payload within humanitarian or military missions.
The research and development topics are:
The expertise of the institute is based on the long-term experience with the own systems ALEX-I and -II and on the participation on different external projects like PTD, FASTWing, and FASTWing CL (see below).
Autonomous Landing EXperiment ALEX (1996-2005)
The ALEX capsules were the first automatic flight devices of the institute. They consisted on a capsule with a weight of approximately 100 kg, connected to a steerable gliding parachute. The capsule was equipped with typical components for unmanned aircraft, such as inertial and orientation sensors, controlled actuators, computers and communication modules.
Goal of the ALEX project was on the one hand the modeling and system identification of parachute load systems and, on the other hand, the development of an automatic control algorithm with a demonstrated precision landing. There have been 24 flight tests in total, with a dropping altitude of up to 2000 m. The achieved landing accuracy was below 50 m.
Autonomous Parachute Load Systems
Beginning with the ESA project PTD (Parafoil Technology Demonstration Project) from 1995 to 1997 and the following EU projects FASTWing (Foldable Adaptive Steerable Textile Wing) from 2002 to 2005 and its follower FASTWing CL (- Capital Loads) from 2007 to 2010, the institute's capabilities on controlled and automaticparachute systems were extended to higher loads.
While PTD with a payload of up to 1.8 tons was a demonstrator designed for space applications, the projects FASTWing (payload up to 3.2 tons) and FASTWing CL (payload up to 6 tons) were concentrating on applications with automatically controlled parachute systems for military and humanitarian loads.
For example, the contributions of the Institute of Flight systems to FASTWing CL were:
FastWing CL was successfully finished in June 2010. During the flight test campaigns in the USA, 7 manual and 2 automatic flights were performed.