Over the summer I had the opportunity to experiment with larger UAVs. I flew lots of different quad-copters autonomously and also manually before, however it was time first time this summer that I flew helicopters autonomously. Helicopters have couple of advantages and disadvantages compared to quad-copters.
– They don’t tolerate error
– Crashes are usually quite catastrophic
– They are more dangerous due to the blade size
– Mechanical parts require maintenance
– Can carry weight
– Can be powered by gas (gas has a higher energy density than batteries)
– Can withstand more wind
The learning curve for the helicopter was a little steep due to swash blade configurations and the mechanics. However by July we managed to log more than 10 hours of autonomous flight with a 2m long helicopter. A helicopter of that size can easily chop a human in to half therefore it requires extreme caution while testing.