Zach Adams

“Today’s drones can’t get close to structures because of the way that they move. They have to lean forwards or backwards to move forward or backwards. As drones get bigger, they have a lot of inertia associated with them. so leaning takes a long time. They get blown away from an asset or blown into it. It just doesn’t provide that inch or centimeter level of control that you really need with a drone.”

Zach Adams

This Week’s Key Question

“Can An Old Technology Make Industrial Drones Safer and More Effective”

This Week’s Guests

Zach Adams is Chief Engineer for Pitch Aeronautics.  Pitch Aeronautics has developed a unique drone for up-close, touch-based, and robotic tasks.  Zach is recognized as a leading authority on cyclorotor technology. He is the named inventor on multiple cyclorotor patents and has published extensively on the topic. He holds a BS in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue.

What We Learn

Among the most dangerous jobs in the United States is climbing infrastructure to perform inspections and maintenance as well as performing power line maintenance.  While today’s drones are good at taking video, they are not well suited to get close or actually interact with the surface of an object. Consequently, technicians are sent up on ropes, ladders, scaffolding, cranes, and sometimes even hanging from helicopters to perform this work. 

Pitch Aeronautics’ Astria Drone is specifically optimized for touch based tasks. It has a unique configuration that can hold a 10 pound payload on a long horizontal arm to keep it away from the rotors and allow it to interact with a building, bridge, tower, wind turbine and powerline.  It’s flown to the area using a first-person-view camera and goggles. Astria then overlays key flight and job information on the goggles so the operator can conduct the mission. 

Astria positions the payload near the target by using a cyclorotor for lateral control. Cyclorotors are unique propellers that can near instantaneously push the drone forward, backward, left, or right. This allows Astria to compensate for wind gusts and fly more precisely. It can create and change thrust 5-10x faster than traditional drones. Cyclorotors have been used on tugboats and ferries for nearly a century for the same reason. 

In this episode of the Drone Radio Show, Zach talks about Pitch Aeronautics, its innovative Astria drone and how the company’s patented cyclorotor technology is making dangerous jobs safer. 

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