AeroVironment. has filed a patent for a UAV payload module retraction mechanism. The mechanism includes a payload that can be stowed and deployed, with a biasing member to deploy the payload and a winch and flexible drawing member to retract it back into the UAV. The patent also describes a method for installing and operating the payload module. GlobalData’s report on AeroVironment gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s company profile on AeroVironment, Precision imaging drones was a key innovation area identified from patents. AeroVironment's grant share as of June 2023 was 48%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Uav payload module retraction mechanism

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: AeroVironment Inc

A recently filed patent (Publication Number: US20230202678A1) describes a method and apparatus for deploying and retracting a payload in a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle). The method involves installing a payload module in the UAV, which contains a payload that can be stowed within the UAV and deployed out of it. The payload is biased out of the UAV into a deployed position and can be retracted using a flexible means capable of supporting tension. This retraction is achieved by causing the payload to retract into the UAV from the deployed position while still being biased out of the UAV.

The flexible means used for retracting the payload can be a cable or a belt, preferably made of a corrosion-resistant material such as KEVLAR. The biasing of the payload involves providing sufficient force to keep it stable when deployed in an airstream. Additionally, the patent claims include locking the payload in the deployed position to secure it and using a winch for retracting the payload.

The patent also describes a UAV that incorporates the above method and apparatus. The UAV includes a payload module with a deployable payload and a retraction mechanism apparatus capable of moving the payload from a stowed position within the UAV to a deployed position extending out of it. Importantly, the retraction mechanism is designed to retract the payload back into the UAV upon contact with a landing surface if the payload is not retracted before landing. This feature is particularly useful for UAVs without landing gear, which may rely on a skid pad for landing on hard surfaces. The patent further mentions that the UAV can be amphibious or hand-launched.

In summary, the filed patent describes a method and apparatus for deploying and retracting a payload in a UAV, as well as a UAV incorporating this technology. The method involves installing a payload module, biasing the payload out of the UAV, and retracting it using a flexible means. The UAV is designed to retract the payload upon landing to prevent damage. This technology has potential applications in various UAVs, including those without landing gear and those used for amphibious or hand-launched operations.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.