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Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs)

The Customer:
A group of undergraduate engineering students at a prestigious US university desired to design, construct, test and fly autonomous fixed wing RC aircraft.

The Challenge:
In research applications, repeated data loss can setback a program considerably. Therefore, in order to offer a viable autonomous flight solution, it is critical that the system be robust and capable of continuous functionality.

The students needed an effective radio modem with a line-of-sight range of over five miles. This would allow users on the ground to view in-flight variables as well as provide the ability to change mission parameters even if the plane is out of visible range. Power requirements and sensitivity were also considerations.

The Solution:
Digi’s 9Xtend was selected for its proven ability to provide consistent performance in the extreme and varying conditions in which the students performed test flights. In order to ensure that they are able to maintain constant communication with the ground station, the students used the 1-Watt 9XTend 900 MHz serial modem, capable of 115.2 kbps over-air transfer rates. This modem was responsible for data packets sent back and forth to the plane.

The Result:
The students successfully designed, constructed and flew an autonomous fixed wing RC aircraft. The aircraft, utilizing Digi’s radios, has competed two years in a row in the Annual Student Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Competition. Integrating Digi’s radios, the UAV won the competition the first year and the students plan on competing in the third annual competition this summer.

Quote:
“Your radio modems have been a backbone to the communications on our autonomous aircraft. We have been using them for two years now and have been very impressed with their sensitivity and low power requirements.”

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