Eurolink’s Beluga drone: classic design and cutting-edge performance

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“When we designed our new drone, we knew it had to have top performance, but it also had to represent beauty. We are Italians, remember.

These are the words of Pietro Lapiana, President of Eurolink Systems. Speaking to Commercial UAV News at AUVSI’s recent XPONENTIAL 2022 in Orlando, Florida, Lapiana described the development of his company’s new Beluga® mini-drone. He explained how the Beluga combines classic design elements, inspired by Italian masters like Leonardo da Vinci, with state-of-the-art technology.

Several years ago, Eurolink began designing a fast, quiet and adaptable drone to perform a wide variety of operations. According to Lapiana, Beluga is the first member of a family of innovative drones, and it is in production in three versions: cargo, surveillance, military.

Transportation version

For inspiration, Lapiana and his team followed “Leonardo da Vinci’s instructions”, meaning they looked to nature to “see what has already been done and create a solution optimized by mother nature/ technological”.

Turning to nature, they found the beluga whale, a creature known for its unique shape and intelligence. In the beluga, the Eurolink team saw an aerodynamic body, which allows the whale to move quickly despite its heavy weight. They also saw the beluga whale’s large head which, suitable for a drone, supports the housing of sophisticated technology.

Taking inspiration from the natural “design” of the beluga whale, the Eurolink team created a drone that “can fly at 110 km/h for an hour while carrying 1.5 kg, with artificial intelligence processing on board “, affirmed Lapiana.

Turning to other species, the designers of Eurolink have focused on noise reduction. By examining birds of prey, such as night owls, they developed in partnership with the drone laboratory of the Niccolò Cusano University in Rome, unique propellers sporting a “toothed” design. These propellers, Lapiana said, make the Beluga up to nine times quieter than standard commercial drones weighing 7.5 kg. “The Beluga,” he said, “is larger and much more powerful than this class of commercial drones, but testing has confirmed it is quieter.”

Reducing the noise produced by drones is essential to develop the use of this technology, especially in urban areas. As Lapiana said, “you could have hundreds of drones flying over your house”, and humans and animals are “very sensitive to the noise level, the frequency spectrum created by the propellers and human perception and fauna of a new kind of noise”.

The Eurolink team designed the Beluga with a holistic vision to bring new technology to the mass market with the smoothest transition.

The toothed propellers applied to the Beluga will improve noise reduction and lead to greater drone acceptance in heavily populated areas. “It’s a natural evolution,” Lapiana said.

Beyond the Beluga’s unique design, drone users will find a vehicle capable of performing a number of tasks. The drone can be equipped with a wide range of payloads, gimbals and sensor suites.

Monitoring version

Additionally, Lapiana said, the Beluga is “extremely composable,” meaning it can be easily configured to undertake operations such as package and medical supply delivery, 3D mapping, search and rescue missions. rescue, surveillance and agricultural work.

Additionally, Lapiana reported, on-board AI processing enables heterogeneous drone swarm operations. With this technology, Eurolink is actively working on a precision farming project with a swarm of beluga whales and UGV/ground dog robots to create a digital twin of vineyards in the Dolomites region, a UNESCO heritage site.

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