AeroVironment has been granted a patent for a ground support system for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The system includes handling fixtures and dollies that can support and move wing panels and landing pods of the UAVs, allowing for easy assembly and alignment of the wing panels. The dollies also enable transportation of the UAVs over uneven terrain. 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 September 2023 was 49%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Ground support system for assembling and transporting uavs

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

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11772817B2) describes a ground support system for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The system includes handling fixtures and dollies that are configured to support and move wing panels and landing pods of the UAV. The handling fixtures and dollies can rotate and align multiple wing panels with each other for UAV assembly.

The ground support system also includes dollies that are capable of transporting the UAV over uneven terrain. The handling fixtures are fitted to the wing panel spars and allow for 360-degree rotation of each wing panel relative to the ground level. Additionally, the handling fixtures are height-adjustable to raise or lower the wing panel to a desired working height.

The UAV is secured to the dollies via the landing pods, and a yoke and winch system prevents the UAV from unintentionally taking flight. The dollies feature a lift tray that cradles the landing pod and positions the wing panel at a first pitch angle, which decreases the chance of unintentional takeoff. The system also includes a rear gate that opens for the winch to pull the landing pod into the lift tray and closes to secure it.

To stabilize the UAV after assembly and during transportation, interconnect frames are connected between the dollies. A towing frame connector allows the UAV to be towed by a vehicle to a runway site. The vehicle can tow the UAV sideways or in a direction perpendicular to the forward flight direction, reducing the risk of unintentional takeoff. A wind fence, attached to the vehicle, protects the UAV from high winds during towing and enables faster towing speeds.

The patent also describes a method for ground support of UAVs using the disclosed system. The method involves supporting wing panels with handling fixtures, receiving landing pods with dollies, and aligning the wing panels for UAV assembly by moving and rotating them using the handling fixtures and dollies. The method may also include transporting the UAV over uneven terrain and adjusting the working height of the wing panel using the handling fixtures.

Overall, this ground support system and method provide efficient and secure handling, assembly, and transportation of UAVs, ensuring safe and controlled 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.