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Pixhawk-based and gas-powered quadcopter is one of the semifinalists for The Hackaday Prize


As you might know, Pixhawk is one of the most exciting UAV control units, allowing many possibilities especially in fields of autonomous flight and customizable setting. And yes, we also have this outstanding device in our stock. So today I would like to present you an interesting unmanned aerial project, which happened to be one of the finalists for the prestigious Hackaday Prize as well. According to the Hackaday team: “The Hackaday Prize will be awarded to the best example of an open, connected device.” And the price itself is nothing less than a trip to space for the winner. Anyway, let´s get back to the Pixhawk-based copter. Its creator has decided to use a gasoline engine for propulsion, which is much less common with such UAVs. According to the constructor, Peter McCloud, are electric motors are more efficient than gas, but the power density of gasoline is much greater than currently available batteries, so gas power still seems to be a way to go.

The quadcopter is called Goliath and it features a single 30HP engine and a belt system to transfer power to the four propellers. What is quite uniqe about this drone, is its maneuvering system. Multicopters can traditionally maneuver by varying the speed of each propeller to control thrust, but for the Goliath uses fixed pitch propellers and all of them turn at the same speed because of the belt drive. Therefore, maneuvering can be done just by control vanes similar to those used to steer hovercrafts. As we mentioned above, flight control will be performed using the Pixhawk controller. Moreover, the unit will be use a modified version of Ardupilot flight software to fully effective work with the copter´s unique control system. The Goliath is mention to be an open source UAS, so that´s apparently the main reason why it is using Pixhawk and Ardupilot, and even the modifications are also open source. What next can be found on this drone´s configuration? Well, there is an USB radio receiver connected to the flight controller, which is able to receive ADS-B signals in order to detect and avoid another aircrafts in operating area. In addition, the Goliath UAV has an Wi-fi interface which allows the public to interact and be in touch with the drone.

Thanks to the wi-fi interface will be data and video fully available and potential observers can notify the operator of potential issues. This particular UAV is openly intended as a starting point for future vehicles, designed with the creative common license and with various of available open source components. I´m personally pretty curious if this platform will achieve some significant further development due to spreading into UAS enthusiasts community. But any regarding conclusions about this matter would be done untimely, because the prototype is still in a testing faze. Nevertheless, since the project went to the best 50 simifinalists in the Hackaday Prize, it seems there is a significant and promising potential. Or at least a great inspiration for another designers and engineers.