Freespace Operations Australian drone

Freespace Operations: Australian drone manufacturer

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Freespace Operations, based in Melbourne, Australia delivers high-performance, bespoke solutions for a variety of industries, enabling complex aerial operations with precision and efficiency.

About Freesapce Operations

Freespace Operations is a leading Australian drone manufacturer specialising in advanced unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The company focuses on developing cutting-edge technology, including multirotors, VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) aeroplanes, powered tethers, and ICE hybrid petrol-electric drones.

The innovative team at Freespace Operations is led by Managing Director and Chief Remote Pilot, Ken King, and Chief Technical Officer, Leonard Hall. Ken King, an accomplished engineer with over 15 years of experience, is a pioneer in the RPAS industry and holds multiple CASA licenses.

Leonard Hall, a specialist in electromagnetic engineering, has significantly contributed to the defence sector and is the lead control developer of ArduCopter. Together, their expertise and passion drive Freespace Operations to the forefront of drone technology.

A look at Freespace’s drones

Callisto multirotor

The Callisto Multirotor, an octocopter, is designed for high-performance and versatile applications with a frame size of 1400 mm and an airframe weight of 15.2 kg (including landing gear). It is equipped with 32”-34” propellers for optimal performance, especially at high altitudes. Its powerful 100 Kv motors, rated at 2.7 kW, are supported by ESCs rated at 80 A, peaking at 100 A, and powered by a 12s LiPo or LiHV battery system.

The Callisto is equipped with an ArduCopter autopilot system and a GPS dual RTK system for precise navigation. It features LiDAR for precision landing and terrain following, and communication is handled by RFD900 or Microhard systems with a 4G/LTE option, providing a comms range of 5-20 km, extendable to 40 km with suitable antennas.

The Callisto boasts a flight time of over 40 minutes, a max speed exceeding 25 m/s, and is highly maneuverable with a max climb and descent rate of 10 m/s. Designed to withstand all Australian conditions, including mining and marine environments, it is capable of deploying from metal hull boats and moving platforms. Its IP54 rating ensures durability in inclement weather and light rain.

Payloads are mounted using a NATA accessory rail system, and it offers multiple power supplies and communication ports, making it a robust and adaptable solution for a range of industrial applications. Callisto supports various camera options for situational awareness and payloads, with a take-off weight of up to 52 kg and a max effective payload of 25 kg.

Sapphire VTOL

The Sapphire VTOL aircraft is engineered for exceptional endurance and versatility with an impressive flight endurance of over 12 hours and a ceiling altitude exceeding 18,000 feet (6,000 meters). The Sapphire VTOL is designed for long-range missions and cruises comfortably at 92 kph (26 m/s, 50 knots) and can reach dash speeds of up to 130 kph (36 m/s, 75 knots). The aircraft boasts an unrestricted C2 range of over 400 km (250 miles), making it ideal for extensive aerial surveys and monitoring.

Powered by a 4.5 kW DA70 EFI 2-stroke engine with a 500 W generator, the Sapphire VTOL can hover for up to 4 minutes with a hover ceiling of 2,500 meters (6,000 feet). Its compact design features a length of 2.4 meters (7.75 feet), a wingspan of 5.0 meters (16.5 feet), and a height of 0.5 meters (1.6 feet). Despite its robust capabilities, the aircraft maintains an empty weight of 34 kg (80 lbs) and a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 50 kg (130 lbs), supporting a maximum payload weight of 8 kg (20 lbs) and a maximum fuel weight of 8 kg (20 lbs).

The Sapphire VTOL is equipped with the SpektreWorks VTOL avionics stack and operates on the ArduPilot flight software, ensuring reliable and precise flight control. This aircraft is well-suited for demanding environments and missions, offering a powerful combination of endurance, speed, and payload capacity.

Images via Freespace Operations