Aeronautics Institute assistant Juris Korhs hooks up the drone’s cables
Professor Aleksandrs Urbahs is the director of the Aeronautics Institute and the founding father of the drone project
Some 600 students currently attend the Aeronautics Institute (formerly the Riga Aviation University)
AERTI Drones: An Aircraft with a Mission
The pride and joy of the Riga Technical University’s Aeronautics Institute is two white drones that were manufactured over almost four years. Intended to engage in environmental monitoring, the long-distance aircraft can examine the thickness of ice in the Gulf of Riga or the quality of a rapeseed field at a radius of several kilometres from the drone’s base station on the ground.
The project involved 28 scientists, with four groups of specialists working on specific issues to create the foundation for the drones’ construction. “These are not just two remote control aircrafts,” says the ideological progentior of the project, Aeronautics Institute director Professor Aleksandrs Urbahs. “This is a major drone system that involves the creation and testing of new materials, the development of a special environmental monitoring methodology, the preparation of the base station, and the system to launch the drones.” Aleksandrs believes that the project’s primary result is valuable knowledge; because several of the inventions related to the drone development have already been patented. At the moment, the institute is on the search for companies in the drone sector that could take an interest in manufacturing one or more of the institute’s inventions.
“A small aircraft has to be as light as possible,” says Ilmārs Ozols, one of the students who worked on the drones. “To accommodate this, we came up with a new composite material for the drones, a material that has now been patented.”
When fully charged, the drones can remain aloft for 90 minutes and cover a distance of approximately 60km. It is controlled by two remote pilots, one using a remote control and the other tracking the movements of the drone via a video camera installed in the drone that transmits imagery to a computer screen. The scientists are now working on a petrol-powered drone, which will be able to remain in flight for as long as seven hours and can even land on water to collect samples for pollution control purposes.