The unmanned aerial vehicle is one of an autonomous nature, so it’s only fitting that it should be produced through a technology that allows its creator great autonomy as well–in design, construction, manufacturing, and the ability to make tweaks–or reprint another when the previous one goes down. The bottom line is that it’s also an awful lot of fun for the hobbyist to be able to create something in their own workshop and then man it from the ground, controlling it as it takes to the sky.
Toby Lankford (also known as tlankford1) is doing all of this, but he has several unique things going on with his single construction, fully 3D printed aerial project, Icarus 3.0. One, he plans to catch some bad guys with it. Two, it will run on both solar power and hydrogen. Lastly, the project is in the running for winning the 2015 Hackaday Prize, as Lankford participates in the yearly challenge which asks inventors to be creative while solving a serious solution at the same time.
Lankford is no stranger to challenges or to being autonomous, so everything about this project is an intuitive fit for this independent and resourceful maker and tinkerer who has lived impressively off the grid for years now. A resident of Texas, his interests are in using his aerial and robotic creations to work toward creating better food growing and distribution systems, as well as using them in wildlife areas to deter and catch poachers.
“I work with civilian UAS and ground robotics across several fields from survey to anti-poaching. I like working in open sourced projects and contributing to overcome development and application challenges. We live completely off grid for over three years and our hackerspace and all we develop is off grid as well,” says Lankford.
His latest project, Icarus 3.0, will indeed also be released as an open-source design on Thingiverse, and should be of note to those interested in using 3D printing in combination with aerial engineering. Using dual extrusion and with the hinges built into the modular design, Lankford was able to fabricate the wings in one 3D print.
The 3D printed Icarus, capable of automated takeoff and landing, is stated to be the longest-flying plane under 5g, able to fly for up to twelve hours. It also has a number of other very notable features:
- Rapid payload and power switching
- Solar power as fuel, with alternate ability to use hydrogen
- Ability to fly long ranges of 200 km with endurance of 180 minutes
- Employment of ‘fire and forget’ autonomous mission from launch to recovery
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com