Volocopter has been granted a patent for a method of operating an aircraft with multiple drive units. The method involves providing two flight control units that activate the drive units according to different control implementations. The active flight control unit is continuously monitored, and a change is made to the newly active unit based on the monitoring results. The change includes initializing starting values and integrators, as well as equalizing control commands between the active and newly active units. 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 September 2023 was 21%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Method for operating an aircraft with multiple flight control units

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

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11745885B2) describes a method for operating an aircraft with multiple drive units. The method involves using two flight control units to activate the drive units based on different control implementations. The first flight control unit is active and activates the drive units according to a first control implementation, while the second flight control unit activates the drive units according to a second control implementation.

The method includes continuously monitoring the function of the currently active flight control unit and changing the active flight control unit to the newly active one based on the monitoring results. When changing to the newly active flight control unit, the method involves initializing the starting values of the movement equation of the aircraft using currently known state values of the aircraft. It also initializes the integrators of the newly active flight control unit using control commands for the drive units from the currently active flight control unit. Additionally, the method includes a difference equalization between the control commands for the drive units from the currently active flight control unit and the newly active flight control unit.

The patent also describes a flight control device for an aircraft with multiple drive units. The device includes a first flight control unit and a second flight control unit, as well as a monitoring unit for continuously monitoring the function of the currently active flight control unit. The device also includes a control-engineering implementation for changing the active flight control unit to the newly active one based on the monitoring results. The control-engineering implementation includes blocks for initializing the starting values of the movement equation of the aircraft, initializing the integrators of the newly active flight control unit, and carrying out the difference equalization between the control commands for the drive units from the currently active and newly active flight control units.

This patent provides a method and device for effectively operating an aircraft with multiple drive units by utilizing different flight control units and seamlessly transitioning between them based on monitoring results. The method ensures smooth control implementation and integration of the drive units, enhancing the overall performance and safety of the aircraft. The flight control device described in the patent can be implemented in aircraft with multiple drive units to optimize their operation and control.

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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.