We are designing an intelligent drone battery exchanger network.
Our goal is that, at low cost, to have our drones 24 hours on air. In addition, they will travel long distances efficiently and intelligently thanks to this smart network of superchargers - connected between stations and with drones - that will allow effective routes to be drawn while maintaining a fleet of drones flying.
There are many challenges to be solved, however, we believe that it is essential that an openharware network of drone supercharger exists.
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We need a sturdy and robust system that serves as an automated platform for landing and replacing drone batteries. It has to work with different kinds of drones.
During the design we have thought of a platform that would serve for any type of drone, and that could be done by anyone.
After this design phase, we want to manufacture the first prototype testing its actual operation.
Fermin has been working on how to improve the centering system - maybe the most important issue once the drone is landed. As you can see in the pictures, now there are end of carriage detectors. We have moved from belt to spindles, in this way both pushers can move independently. There are also new sensors to help steppers to be positioned. As one can see, some parts can be 3d-printed.
1: Pushers // 2: Longitudinal steppers. // 3: spindles // 4: Central piece to host bearings // 5: Protector
We have been working in battery connectors improvements. The main issue is that we need a robust system to manage tension and LiPo charge balancing. One has to have in mind that there will be lot of connetions and un-connection in the platform life.
Box with rail and connectors (multipurpose - both cylinder and multi-drone)
Here are some pictures of our drone-port. The main purpose of this drone-port is to move the drone - after it lands - to the exact point where the arm can replace the battery. There will be a video tomorrow.
Here is the overall picture of the platform. The arm to replace the battery (and its support) in the left.
The bottom of the platform
Just when the dron lands.
two bars move (thanks to stepper motors) to catch the drone
Last monday we were talking on how to release the battery, to choose and discard all the concepts of design that we had been thinking about the system of extraction of the battery, we evaluate their pros and cons. And we determine that a cam that rotates by moving safety tabs, releasing is the most optimal way.
Step 1: the arm in which the cam is at its extreme, expands towards the drone, this movement is parallel to the drone's landing zone.
Step 2: the cam reaches the back of the drone.
Step 3: the cam rotates and displaces the safety tabs.
Step 4: the arm shrinks to its shortest position by removing the the battery (it's inside a case).
Step 5: the arm descends to the cylinder plant, which is where the batteries are recharged. This cylinder consists of slots.
Step 6: In the same way that it get a battery from the drone, it deposits it in a cilynder empty slot.
Step 7: the cylinder rotates to the position of a new battery with energy (already charged)
step 8: the arm expands and extracts the battery, (as in step 2.3 etc.)
Step 9: the arm goes up where the drone is waiting for the battery with fresh energy.
Step 10: the arm is expanded to introduce battery, which is attached to the cam.
Step 11: the cam rotates, causing to fix the battery to the drone, giving it tied to the drone.
Step 12: the arm shrinks decoupling completely from the drone. That giving this with a charged battery.