Volocopter has patented a method for controlling an aircraft with multiple configurations, transitioning between copter and jet modes based on horizontal velocity. The flight controller dynamically adjusts control laws for smooth transitions, ensuring safe and efficient flight operations. GlobalData’s report on Volocopter 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 Volocopter, Photovoltaic drones was a key innovation area identified from patents. Volocopter's grant share as of February 2024 was 67%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Aircraft control method transitioning between copter and jet modes

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Volocopter GmbH

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11921521B2) discloses a method for controlling an aircraft with multiple configurations. The method involves utilizing different control laws implemented by a flight controller for each configuration - a copter mode for low horizontal velocities and a jet mode for higher horizontal velocities. The transition between these modes is triggered by measuring the horizontal velocity relative to the surrounding air and gradually blending out the control law for the current configuration while increasing the impact of the control law for the desired configuration. This transition is facilitated by dynamically adjusting the maximum and minimum limit values of control volumes defined by parameter ranges of control parameters associated with each configuration.

Furthermore, the patent details a process for estimating the horizontal velocity of the aircraft using a pilot control input related to forward motion. This estimation involves normalizing and low-pass filtering the pilot input to determine an estimated normalized forward speed, which is then used to set a threshold for switching between the copter and jet modes. The method also includes criteria for checking deviations in control outputs during the transitioning phase and adapting the maximum and minimum limit values of control volumes to ensure smooth and efficient control of the aircraft in different configurations. Overall, the patented method offers a comprehensive approach to controlling aircraft with multiple configurations, enhancing their maneuverability and performance based on varying flight conditions.

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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.