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Theseus

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Theseus (Theseus)

Reporting period: 2015-05-04 to 2015-09-03

Theseus project aims at offering monitoring services for critical infrastructures protection in urban environment.
In order to deliver these services a new type of UAV is required i.e. Theseus. Theseus UAV makes use of a new disruptive technology, not yet in the market, which allows the mixing of helicopter and airplane characteristics, at a very low cost.
Theseus is a VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) aircraft with long range and endurance, without mobile control surfaces, powered with electrical propulsion and hybrid range extender, capable of resuming the hover standing attitude for short periods during the mission execution.
The two basic services, which have been analysed for the offering of these new alternative solutions, are the surveillance of:
• High voltage pylons and power cables
• Dumpsters and related waste management.
Written confirmation has been expressed of the interest for the actual services by leading companies in these two areas as well as by other prospective customers.
The market analysis has shown that the development of a medium size remotely piloted UAV to offer services of high accuracy monitoring through LIDAR and Multispectral sensors, is a correct choice.
A complete Business plan, containing also the letters of interest and support by the prospective customers, has been produced and is available as a Theseus project annex.
The performed work has allowed the confirmation of the concept and the approach stated in the phase 1 proposal. The new (July 2015) national regulations and the results coming from the business plan suggested the development of two UAV, one in the <25 Kg class (Theseus S) and one in the <150 Kg one (Theseus M).
The main future challenge is the realisation of Theseus S in one year, the start of services in the following year, while Theseus M will proceed toward the necessary airworthiness certification to be undertaken in the third year.
The objectives of the project were to:
1) Develop UAV’s capable of operate in the urban environment Beyond Line Of Sight using a disruptive technology. This objective was reached through an innovation that led to a patent covering certain aspects of a Vertical-Take-Off-and-Landing aircraft with long endurance
2) Generate a market entry plan based on a niche whit no competing technology
3) Select cooperating companies and establish close connections with important research centres
4) Generate a feasibility study with a detailed business plan.
The project was divided into six tasks and in addition the overall Management.

Task 1 was devoted to the feasibility analysis for a UAV with overall mass limited to 150 Kg (including a 20% margin), to the preliminary design of wings, propeller and gearbox, to the choice of electrical motor and batteries and to the specification of range extender (endothermic motor and fuel tank). The choice of the communication system for Line Of Sight was also performed.
Task 2 was devoted to the UAV CAD. The UAV was completely defined and simulated to verify in Mathlab its performance.
Furthermore a propeller design tool was realised to design the optimal propeller for Theseus S and Theseus M.
In Task 3 the software characteristics for Guidance, Navigation and Control were highlighted. A proper hardware was chosen (MicroPilot) for Phase 2 implementation of navigation rules.
In Task 4 a detailed study of available payload (LIDAR and multispectral Cameras) was conducted in order to define the characteristics of the payload, the mass and power requirements and the costs.
The work led to the determination of the UAV capabilities.
In Task 5 a market study was conducted to build an accurate picture of the Italian market in the niche regarding critical infrastructures protection in the urban environment. Two business cases were studied in detail, and other important cases were identified. A detailed investment plan was also produced together with a forecast of balance sheets for the initial five years demonstrating the validity of the project and the obtainable return in occupancy: 24 people will be hired over the considered period.
Task 6 consisted in compiling a report of regulations for BLOS flight in urban environment. The USA, EU and Italian cases were considered. It is important to notice that the basic hypotheses of our business case i.e. the monitoring of critical infrastructures in urban environment are kept since:
a. Flights over urban areas, not critical from crowding point of view, are allowed
b. Flights Beyond Line of Sight are possible with an automatic RPAS in segregated areas
It could be essential to make experiments both with a RPAS with MTOW lower that 25 Kg and with a RPAS with MTOW higher that 25 Kg, but lower than 150 Kg, due to different applicable flight rules.
For this reason we have envisaged Theseus S (25 Kg) and Theseus M (150 Kg).
The project was delivered in 4 months.
The study improved On-Air Consulting and Solutions SRL understanding of market potential, competitive environment and customers’ needs. As a result of the study On-Air now has a definite strategy for the product and services development and a business plan for the chosen market.
On-Air Vision is to be the leading service company, for medium range, long endurance, autonomous UAV, providing end-to-end solutions in the field of infrastructure protection.
The focus for the services is in Italy, with the ambition to go, via partnerships, to all European countries.
On-Air Mission is to realise a disruptive technology in the field of UAV, based on a patented solution allowing the realisation of VTOL airplane with hybrid propulsion with alternate helicopter and airplane flying capability.
The development of UAV’s employing this technology will pave the way to an engineering capability in the field of aeronautical design, both at system and critical component level.
When launched, the services for critical infrastructures protection in urban environment will allow Theseus customer to reduce their costs for an important factor.
If a grant in Phase 2 is obtained, Theseus will grow at a fast pace repaying the investment within three years of operations and will have a increase of employees by 24 people.
In addition a novel centre for UAV engineering development will be created, with strong interconnections with Universities and research centres.
Figure 3: Ground Control Station for Theseus M VTOL UAV
Figure 2: Theseus in Vertical Attitude and in Level Flight
Figure 1: Theseus structure and relative weights of constituent subsystems