Until recently, mainly civilian users were interested in the parachute systems, but gradually they are moving into the focus of the military and governmental users in the security sector.
Andreas Ploier, Managing Partner of Drone Rescue Systems GmbH, explained: “The advantages of the systems, aside from their obvious basic properties, are the numerous interfaces and integration possibilities. This means that we can currently offer solutions for almost all drones with a MTOW between 2kg and 25kg. Furthermore, we have developed model-specific parachute systems for a number of DJI models. These include the DJI M300, DJI M600 and DJI M210.”
The first standard system was launched for the DJI M600 in 2018; customized systems have been available since 2016. “We offer numerous integration and interface options, so that our parachute systems can be easily adapted and integrated to almost all types of drones,” said Ploier.
Drones used for aerial surveillance
The majority of the drones in use today are operated in the field of professional aerial photography, aerial reconnaissance and surveillance. Many different cameras and gimbals are compatible and can be fully integrated, making the flight systems versatile. This is why it is so important to protect the drones and their costly payloads from crashes and to ensure that the flight system and payloads can be used again after an accident. “Especially when monitoring major events, demonstrations and similar large-scale gatherings from the air, security agencies want to avoid an incident involving crowds of people. In the event of an incident, our parachute systems ensure a safe, controlled landing without putting people in danger,” Ploier continues. In military applications, however, the focus is on securing the payload in the event of an accident. “It is precisely through the controlled landing of drones that they can be recovered quickly,” said Ploier.
Drone Rescue Systems is involved in numerous research projects both nationally and internationally and is working with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) on innovative projects such as the FALCon project, which focuses on cost-efficient and environmentally friendly satellite transport. The project is about the return of rocket stages after the launch. In order to be able to reuse these stages, the company is working on ways of capturing them in the air using a ‘rocket catcher’.
Intelligent electronics monitor flight condition
All parachute rescue systems are similarly designed. In addition to the carbon cage in which the parachute is stored, the rescue systems consist of intelligent electronics that monitor the flight condition, independent of flight control. Great care was taken not to reduce the possible payload capacity and flight time or range of the drone by installing the parachute system. An algorithm merges the sensor data, thus implementing automatic crash detection. In an emergency, the pilot no longer has to react and press a release button, as this is often not an option, for example if the radio connection fails.
“We want to ensure that even in an emergency Beyond Visual Line of Sight, the drone can be safely intercepted. With our parachute system, thanks to its completely proprietary electronics, which are independent of the flight controller, this is always possible,” said Ploier. “In addition, our system has the advantage of operating completely without explosive, pyrotechnical components. The parachute itself is ejected from the basket in case of an emergency by a robust elastic system. As a result, we have a system that is much lighter and works even in worst-case scenarios.”