31 kg flight test carrier "Prometheus" with 3.2 m wingspan and 6 kW two-stroke engine
Beside the work with vertical take-off and landing systems, the unmanned aircraft department is doing research on fixed-wing aircraft. The activities are also focused on the automation for future operations beyond the line of sight and on the certification for the civil airspace. For this reason, the methods on flight guidance and control, mission control and danger avoidance are optimized especially for the properties of fixed-wing aircraft.
One of the technology demonstrators is the unmanned airplane “Prometheus”. This single-engine test carrier is built as a pusher configuration, i.e. with the propeller in the back. It allows a variety of possibilities for sensor mountings, for example cameras in front. The airplane has a wingspan of 3.2 m and a maximal take-off weight of 31 kg. Propulsion is a 6 kW combustion engine. For test purposes and automatic flights, the vehicle can be equipped with extensive computer and sensor hardware. These payload components can be mounted on a special rack inside the fuselage or outside on predefined points.
Beside the avionic components used also with the helicopters such as satellite and inertial navigation, air sensor data is of high importance. For example, the aircraft can be equipped with:
Further experimental payloads are environment sensors like cameras, laser scanners and radar altimeters, for example for alternative navigation methods and for the automatic flight in unknown terrain.
Next to the test carrier “Prometheus”, the department operates also smaller airplanes like the “Micro Air Lab” and the “FunJet”. This allows cooperative missions with multiple aircraft for active research topics.