The TwinSCIENCE V1 is a new and open platform for the drone science in Klagenfurt, produced by the Austrian company Twins GmbH and developed in close collaboration with the Karl-Popper-Kolleg on Networked Autonomous Aerial Vehicles (KPK-NAV).
Twins has more than 10 years of experience in developing and manufacturing multi-copters in different sizes and for different industrial applications, such as photogrammetry, 3D reconstruction, industrial/agricultural surveillance and inspections. Besides manufacturing, they offer services and solutions for these applications.
Why a new drone platform had to be developed and why not buying an off-the-shelf drone?
Drones for research need to combine two quite different aspects. First, they should be open for modification regarding the firmware and hardware. Second, they should be ready-to-fly, tested, robust and reliable. The first aspect is important when testing new approaches/algorithms and requiring full access to the hardware and software. Furthermore, different algorithms or applications have different requirements on the flight controller and companion PC. For example, for measuring the communication and reliability of new wireless technologies (e.g. drone communication in real cellular networks), different aspects need to be considered as e.g. for collaborative indoor swarming (e.g. drones that sync and swarm). The first example might use just high-level features of the flight controller stack (firmware) such as mission execution, the later might need telemetry information at high rates from the flight controller for an external position estimation algorithm.
We were very tempted to build our own custom drone based on off-the-shelf components, which are available in a huge variety thanks to the growing number of drone enthusiasts and online shops. Many research institutes did this step, but we need to think big. First, the final project of the KPK-NAV is aiming for swarming application with 10+ drones, second the platform should be used in different research projects (e.g. in the AMADEE program of the Austrian Space Forum). Building and maintaining such a fleet would be a burden.
In the beginning of 2019, we came in contact with Twins. After describing our research activities with drones, we started to gather a list of requirements and to write the functional specification. First drafts and sketches were made and in an iterative process of suggestion and modification we came up to a solid design. With in-house manufacturing capability, prototype was built and assembled and test flights were performed. In July 2019, we received our ready-to-fly drone and were able to perform the first outdoor flight on the I-MFG hobby airport in Klagenfurt.
- Open, Ready-To-Fly Drone with RPi 3B+
- Supported flight stacks: ArduCopter-Pilot and PX4
- Supports ROS/MAVROS
- Supports Autonomous Missions and Mission Planning
- Highly customizable: mounting holes, replaceable companion PC and Replaceable arms (up to 15” propellers for more payload)
- Centered battery bay
- Name/identifier: TwinSCIENCE V1
- Multi-Copter type: Quad-Copter in X configuration
- Dimensions: 52 x 52 x 17 cm
- Engine to Engine: 41.4 cm
- Propeller size: 9"
- Motors: 4 x 750 W
- ESC: 45A, BL-Heli32 firmware, no telemetry support
- Weight: 800 g
- Max. payload: 1200 g
- Max. total weight: 2000 g
- Max climb rate: 5 m/s
- Max horizontal velocity: 20 m/s
- Max. hover time: 3000mAh per 10 mins (max payload)
- Supported Batteries : 3–6S cells, 140x55x55+ mm (max dimension), 2x XT60 connector in parallel
- Supply Voltages: 5V/3A BEC connector, Battery Voltage XT30
- Flight Controller: Holybro Pixhawk 4
- Remote Control: FrSky X7S with OpenTX and Yapuu telemetry; freq. range 2404~2480MHz, transmitting power < 100 mw.
- Companion PC: RPi 3B+ (default)
- GNNS: Holybro Pixhawk 4 GNSS (Ublox M8N)
- Holybro wireless telemetry module: 433MHz, 100mW, ~300m range