Autel Robotics presents EVO 2 RTK and Dragonfish VTOL
During the virtual edition of CES 2021, Autel Robotics announced two new drones. It is an RTK version of the EVO 2 quadcopter and a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) fixed-wing drone called Dragonfish. The drones are aimed at professional users who require centimetre-accurate positioning and/or a wide flight range.
EVO 2 RTK
The original EVO 2 series drones was announced exactly one year ago. The EVO 2 is a collapsible drone with a long flight time of approx. 40 minutes and the possibility to change the camera. For example, the drone can be equipped with an 8K camera, a 6K camera with 1” sensor and adjustable aperture or a dual RGB/IR camera. In April 2020, we took a closer look at the EVO 2 and we were quite impressed by the bright orange system at the time.
The new EVO 2 RTK series includes the EVO 2 Pro and EVO 2 Dual 640T with the addition of an RTK (real time kinematic) module on top of the drone. Thanks to RTK GPS, the drone can accurately determine its position, down to the centimeter. That comes in handy for applications such as photogrammetry and inspection work.
Obstacle detection and detachable module
Just like the EVO 2, the EVO 2 RTK also has obstacle detection all around. An interesting fact is that the RTK module is removable, and makes contact with the drone via a universal connector. Autel may be marketing other accessories for the EVO 2 over time, just like DJI did with the Mavic 2 Enterprise.
To be able to apply the required correction signal, Autel brings Robotics is an optional RTK base station on the market. It supports both real-time RTK and PPK. The flight time of the drone has decreased slightly due to the addition of RTK: according to the manufacturer, it is now a maximum of 36 minutes.
The VTOL Dragonfish is definitely a remarkable addition to Autel Robotics product lines. It is a hybrid drone — partly multirotor, partly fixed-wing — that can take off and land vertically (VTOL) and fly further like an airplane. The maximum flight time is 120 minutes.
The cruising speed is approximately 100 km/h. The maximum starting weight (MTOW) of the drone is a small 9 kg, of which more than 1.5 kg is available for the payload. Thanks to the addition of RTK GPS, the Dragonfish can accurately determine its position to a few centimeters.
Autonomy and flight safety
The main feat of the Dragonfish is the addition of intelligent flying functions, based on AI. This allows the Dragonfish to carry out missions autonomously and then fly back independently to the point of takeoff. It is even possible, for example, to have the drone chase a stolen car or circle around a POI. Also, while flying, the drone can automatically maintain a constant altitude relative to the underlying Earth’s surface.
For safety, all essential systems are redundant. For example, the Dragonfish has two batteries and dual output IMUs, compasses and GPS modules. Even the CAN-bus connections are double. During a flight, the status of all systems is continuously monitored.
Payloads and ground station
In order to deploy the Dragonfish for various tasks, it is possible to equip the drone with different payloads. Autel brings three payloads to the market: a 2-sensor camera with wide angle and 20x zoom, second a 3-sensor wide-angle camera, 20x zoom and a thermal imager, and third option a multispectral camera.
The system is controlled using a ground station that is equipped with a bright 9.7” display. Autel Voyager software runs on this, with features such as mission planning, intelligent tracking and flight history tracking. The ground station has a range of about 30 km.