Welcome to the Beagle Systems blog, where we will be taking a regular look at the activities involved in the development and operations of long-range BVLOS drones that we manufacture right here at our headquarters in Hamburg., Germany.
Beagle Systems GmbH is one of the first companies in Germany (and the EU) to obtain a long range BVLOS flight permit, and this permit is instrumental in allowing us to do our daily activities as a Drone-as-a-Service provider.
This means that at present, we are capable of over 200km BVLOS drone flights both in terms of technology and in terms of regulatory requirements.
What is BVLOS?
In terms of range, drone operations fall under three different categories which are VLOS, EVLOS and BVLOS.
The shortest range operations such as those permitted by consumer-level drones, are performed within visual range of the pilot. That is to say, the pilot must remain within Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) of the aircraft. In good conditions, this amounts to a maximum range of about 500 metres.
The next category is EVLOS, which stands for Extended Visual Line of Sight.
During EVLOS operations, light of sight is maintained by additional trained observers who are spaced out along the ground beneath the flight path of the drone. In this method of operation, operators maintain visual contact with the drone and relay the status of the drone to the pilot, effectively acting as the pilot’s eyes as the drone passes out of the pilot’s own visual range.
Naturally this method or operation requires higher operational costs to cover the observation staff on the ground in addition to that of the drone pilot.
BVLOS is the highest level of remote operations and allows the furthest range without the need for trained observers monitoring the drone from the ground. These operations are known as BVLOS, or Beyond Visual Line of Sight.
Flying the long distances enabled by BVLOS capability requires higher levels of automation, and hence higher levels of risk management and quality assurance are needed in order to obtain a BVLOS ascent permit.
Beagle Systems has worked extensively with several state-level aviation authorities as well as the German national aviation authority, the LBA (Luftfahrt-Bundesamt) to ensure compliance with EU regulation 2019/947.
Beagle Systems is one of the first operators in Germany to obtain the long-range BVLOS ascent permit and we are regularly flying inspection routes of increasing distance.
Currently our drones are limited to 200km on a single charge, but we plan to extend that in future according to customer requirements. Our customers right now are routinely carrying out automated inspection flights of an average of around 50km per flight, but the capability to extend that to 200km is available on demand.
What is Drone-as-a-Service?
The Drone-as-a-Service model that Beagle Systems provides is optimised for linear infrastructure inspection, and offers service users a pay-per-kilometer model for data acquisition, plug-and-play hangar/charger installation and hands-free operations between operators and drones.
Linear infrastructure includes rail networks, power line networks, oil and gas pipelines and other systems spread over vast areas. Traditionally inspection of these assets were either visual inspections by staff on the ground, or by air, in crewed aircraft.
These methods are time consuming when performed by people on the ground, or very expensive when using conventional airborne methods such as crewed helicopters.
This is where long-range BVLOS drones show their value, demonstrating speed and affordability thanks to pay-per-km pricing for hassle free infrastructure inspections.
Many companies are interested in taking advantage of drone-based infrastructure inspections, but may be a little concerned about hardware costs and operational costs of staff to maintain and operate the drones.
With our Drone-as-a-Service system, infrastructure operators can rest easy knowing that the required data will be delivered from our autonomous on-site drone assets to the relevant location and/or person.
Our fleet of drones and hangars are capable of providing up to date actionable insights on the physical status of customer infrastructure networks on demand, at any given time, and at any desired frequency of revisit.
We have been working with customers from a wide range of different industries including Germany's largest electricity distributor, Westnetz (powerline inspection), and Lorenz von Ehren Baumschulen (tree health inspection and water monitoring).
As you can see, our drones have applications in areas such as agriculture also and are in no way restricted to only infrastructure-based applications. Our payloads provide data from a range of sensors covering different spectra and can be used for many different purposes.
Future Blog Posts
So now you have an idea of what we are doing here in Hamburg with our long-range BVLOS drones.
We have plenty of engineers here who enjoy reading great engineering content, so we hope to share some of our own interesting drone-themed content with you in future via this very blog.
In future blog posts we will take a look at the engineering and operational side of things, as well as taking a look at how our customers are using our drones in more detail.
Topics we hope to cover in future blog posts will include flight testing, additive manufacturing, materials, simulation, CAD, sensor technology and a whole lot more.
We look forward to sharing our developments in future, and thank you for taking the time to read our first blog post.
Until then, thank you for flying with Beagle Systems!