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An unmanned aerial system made with composites by additive manufacturing

News International-French

25 May 2016

The project has involved two companies: CRP Technology and Parrot. The aim is the construction of the a leisure drone: Bebop 2.

Reinforced composite materials that were used in the construction of on-car and wind tunnel parts and components for racing teams have taken the technology of 3D printing to produce parts for the entertainment industry and consumers. The case-study describes the construction of the first leisure drone: Bebop 2.

The project
Founded in 1994 by Henri Seydoux, Parrot launched a quadricopter piloted by Wi-Fi with a smartphone and equipped with embedded camera in 2010: the AR.Drone. Since then, Parrot has been leading the way in the civil drone industries with a range of drones and minidrones, and continues to guide the innovation with the state-of-the-art Bebop 2, launched in 2015.

Parrot Bebop 2 combines robustness and reliability in a lightweight and compact drone. Powerful with impressive stability and maneuverability even in extreme conditions, Bebop 2 offers easy-to-use piloting with no learning. Data collected by seven sensor are analyzed and merged thanks to the impressive calculation capability of its onboard computer.

Bebop 2 integrates a front facing camera specifically design for it. Pilot can digitally change the angle of the camera by 180° by just sliding a finger on the screen of the piloting device.

Digitally stabilized on 3-axis thanks to powerful algorithms, images are bright, perfectly stable and without distortion regardless of the drone movements.

Numerous systems reinforced the safety of the flights: emergency cut-out feature of the engines, emergency cut-out feature of the propellers in case of contact, limitation of the altitude and of the flying perimeter, automatic return home feature and a LED, at the back of the machine, to understand the direction of the flight while keeping the drone in sight.

The collaboration with CRP Technology
The first Bebop 2 structure was built on injected parts made with polyamide based glass reinforced composite material (with no CRP’s help). Then Parrot moved to SLS technology in collaboration with CRP Technology in order to:

  • optimize the structure performance without developing long lead time and high cost injection tooling
  • accelerate iteration generation
  • improve manufacturing time
  • facilitate production in series

Parrot carried out an original development approach based on experimental diagnosis and FE model aimed at improving the quality of the video during flight (which is usually altered by the vibrations of the drone) through the optimization of drone design.

The structure has been manly developed according to that target and by finding smart design to reduce weight. Parrot validated that natural frequencies of parts manufactured with Windform GT material were similar to injected parts with polyamide based glass reinforced composite material. Combined to FE analysis Parrot has reduced dramatically the development time.

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