Conservation Drones MAJA Edition
Over the last few weeks, ConservationDrones.org has been collaborating with Remo Peduzzi and Simon Wunderlin (from ResearchDrones LLC) to develop the next generation of drones for conservation applications. Remo and Simon bring with them expert knowledge on the building and configuration of UAVs.
After extensive testing of various airframes, we have decided to adapt the Bormatec-MAJA airframe, designed by a German company specifically for UAV use.
Although this airframe is more expensive than previous models of Conservation Drones, the MAJA has several unique features that are well worth its cost. For one, the top half of the entire length of MAJA’s fuselage fully opens like a hatch to expose a huge storage area, allowing easy installation, access and manipulation of onboard equipment in the field, including the autopilot, batteries and camera.
The MAJA airframe itself weighs about 1.5 kg, and can carry a payload of another 1.5 kg! This essentially allows the MAJA to carry two 5000 mAh batteries as well as two video/still-photo cameras!
The MAJA drone can be fitted with either 1.8 m or 2.2 m wings, depending on payload and range requirements. Our test model was fitted with the latest autopilot system from 3DRobotics (APM 2.5), an external GPS module, all metal-gear servos, telemetry and a 5000 mAh battery.
However, what has gotten us most excited about the MAJA is that, due to its superb flight characteristics the MAJA drone can perform fully autonomous landing within a 100 x 100 m landing area.
Unlike previous models of Conservation Drones, the MAJA edition is fully loaded with high quality materials with no expenses spared. The reason for doing so is that after having flown our Conservation Drones across various deployment sites in Asia and Africa and upon feedback from drone operators, we decided that in the long run, it makes more economical sense to invest in higher quality build materials to ensure more reliable and longer lasting drone units.
One unit of Conservation Drones MAJA Edition is currently being tested in the field by Sander van Andel in Gabon. Two additional units of MAJA are being assembled for WWF-Nepal to help with their fight against wildlife poachers in Chitwan and Bardia National Parks.
Since the launch of the ConservationDrones.org initiative, Lian Pin Koh and Serge Wich have been receiving overwhelming requests from conservation researchers and practitioners for us to assemble drones for various conservation-related projects and applications around the world. Since we are full-time university researchers ourselves, we have been struggling to meet those requests, as much as we would like to help everyone who has approached us.
Our solution is to partner with Remo Peduzzi and Simon Wunderlin from ResearchDrones LLC, who share our philosophy of harnessing low-cost UAV technology for conservation use.
ConservationDrones.org, in collaboration with ResearchDrones LLC, will continue to develop new models and share whatever we have learnt on our website. Conservation Drones MAJA Edition, as well as future drone models, will be assembled and shipped by ResearchDrones LLC.