A little while ago ASV got in touch with us wondering if we could mount a tethered drone onto one of their drones… an intriguing situation. They build some amazing autonomous boats whose capabilities could be enhanced by having an aerial platform flying above them.

So we got to work upgrading our craft and cable management system. What we ended up with was a highly efficient lift platform and an automatic winch that could keep the cable tight but not pull too much on the drone.

 

tether-sea-trials-04
Lift off. Tether, winch and quadcopter worked just as we hoped.

At this stage none of it was waterproof, but it was a great test bed for some further development.

It worked wonderfully well, giving a nice stable platform at 25m above the boat. We could have gone higher but there were some very strong cross winds that made things more challenging.

It’s still clearly a prototype system but it could offer some nice benefits and capabilities to ASV’s autonomous craft, effectively given their vessels a pop-up crow’s nest when they need it:

  • Camera feeds for improved situational awareness when maneuvering the craft
  • Improved range for line of sight communications
  • Better detection of waterborne objects or liquids from a raised viewpoint

We look forward to seeing how this develops.