Thames Valley's daredevil drone

Thames Valley's daredevil drone

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By Julian Knight and Geoff Love,
Wednesday, 26th August 2015

Thames Valley hosted a display of drone technology in July at Pincents Manor,  featuring daring fly-past stunts from Skypower’s Russell Cleaver, who guided a drone to hover in front of, and then fly towards, a setting sun.

Aerial-filming specialist Skypower provided a wire-cam system, typically used above sports stadia, and two drones for the display, although the larger, six-rotor Hexacopter proved too difficult to handle in the wind.

The lightweight, four-rotor Quadcopter was launched and reached a height of more than 100m. Cleaver and Neil Willis operated the drone; one piloted the craft while the other operated the 4K camera mounted on a gimbal.

The drone proved its stability in the gusty wind and, with the help of GPS, was able to return home automatically and land almost exactly where it took off.  

Cleaver flew the drone out to its 500-metre limit and then back directly towards the Centre members at a speed approaching 90kph. He also performed a pirouette with the drone, completing a circuit of the field while spinning on its axis.

An unmanned airborne command-and-control vehicle, one of a pair designed and custom-built for the University of Southampton by Broadcast Networks, was brought to the display by the company’s Ian Davis, Phil Keeling and Tom Haye.

The vehicle provides command-and-control facilities for a range of international airborne research missions, including pollution monitoring, weather prediction and civil aviation.

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