Little Smart Things' Cumulus One drone

Space DroneCenter creating an export success

Friday 19 Dec 14


Jakob Jakobsen
Ekstern konsulent
DTU Space

DTU Space DroneCenter

The DTU Space Drone Center has the following goals:

  • To co-ordinate and facilitate research and development of unmanned flying units that meet concrete needs of DTU, danish businesses and danish authorities, and thereby contribute to the country's wealth.
  • To provide more opportunities for DTU's  researchers to use unmanned flying systems - both platforms and sensors - for research.
  • To act as an interface between DTU and external collaborators and thereby build a strategic network with relevant participants in this area

Read more about Space DroneCenter

Drones with maritime applications and danish technology will be an export success

The potential applications for drones at sea are many, but until now their use has been limited. DTU Space Dronecenter, together with the danish company Little Smart Things and Aalborg University, have created a new method for landing drones by autopilot, that is so innovative that the danish Innovation Fund, has decided to invest 5 million kroner in the project.

"Precise navigation and positioning of drones is of particular interest for Space DroneCenter. At the moment there are some big challenges when navigating over the sea which can make it difficult to achieve the necessary precision. This makes it the perfect project for the DroneCenter's research activities. "
Jakob Jakobsen, DTU Space DroneCenter

Open sea rescue, ice monitoring, piracy warning and environmental studies are just some of the areas for which millions of manhours are used at sea and in the air, both nationally and internationally. Many of these assignments could be performed by civilian drones, but it requires that the drones can land on small ships, without a landing pad. Until now it has been extremely hard, even for trained drone operators, to land drones quickly and safely on small ships. The collaborators in this project are developing a system that will make it possible to do this manoevre fully automatically.

The goal of the project is to get a 2 kg drone to land on a small moving area. The drone is a fixed-wing plane adapted from Little Smart Things'  "Cumulus One" craft. Unlike a helicopter, fixed-wing planes need a runway for take-off and landing, but Cumulus One is capable of making a vertical descent. Combined with GPS and an innovative navigation system. the drone will be able to land on a small area of a ship with high precision, completely automatically. This means that the drone can be used by smaller civilian craft that do not have helicopter pads or other landing platform.