Lufthansa Technik launched Wednesday (October 4, 2017) a new online service called Health Condition Monitoring (HCM) allowing manufacturers and users of drones to monitor technical conditions after a mission has ended. The procedure from manned flight is also available for unmanned aircraft. The data-driven, post-flight analysis is available initially for drone components such as batteries, flight controllers, motors and propellers.
The platform was announced in a press release on September 26, 2017. The in-house “SafeDrone” development is available initially for new drone models by Aerialtronics, germandrones, Matternet and YUNEEC’s H520 from late October. Other manufacturers are due to follow in the coming months. The flight controllers read and standardize the flight and sensor data required for status-dependent fault analysis and send the information onto the HCM platform. Component run-times will be measured and system-specific analysis can be carried out.
The complex vibration patterns of a quadcopter, for instance, can be determined throughout the life cycle, and specific fault types can be identified such as an imbalanced propeller or a loose screw between the motor and the casing.
HCM support means drone operators benefit from status analysis and repairs can be done at the right time. Servicing programmes will become more effective and make drone operation more reliable. Eventually, there will be no need for medium or long term, pre-flight checks for unmanned aircraft. Manufacturers can use the HCM analysis for quality control and for industrial benchmarks as they design future models.
Philipp Koehler, HCM Project Leader of the “SafeDrone” team, said: “With the HCM platform, we have made a great step forward for status-dependent fault analysis on drone components, and this will benefit all involved. But we are already working on enhancements for the product, for example, on preventive warning measures and improved fault identification, so as to further reduce maintenance effort and improve reliability.”
Only German servers are used for data analysis and storage. The service is free for registered “SafeDrone” users. The HCM system can be understood even by pilots with little technical experience as the platform shows the user the exact fault based on the analysed error indications, and maintenance recommendation without having to add extra sensors to the drone.