Development project of manned drones from a private business perspective has also started in South Korea. South Korean businesses have thrown their hats into manned drone markets that are preoccupied with Germany’s Volocopter, China’s Ehang and others. When these drones are developed, they will first be used for local government’s theme parks and delivery of supplies for short distances.
Drogen (CEO Lee Heung-shin) made an announcement on the 27th at a new product conference, which was held at War Memorial of Korea in Yongsan-gu, that it is developing manned drones with South Korean motor manufacturer called Nedec and EpiScience from the U.S. Project will start from June of this year, and total of $17.4 million (20 billion KRW) will be invested until a prototype is manufactured.
These 3 businesses will each be in charge of developing FC (Flight Controller), motor, and control system that are major technologies of manned drones.
Drogen will develop high-precision FC that can control 18 motors at once and a transmission that moves according to this FC. FC controls overall flight of a drone and acts like a mainboard of a PC. Transmission sends signals that are processed by FC to drone’s motor.

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<Manned drones developed by Volvocopter (Provided by Drogen) >

Nedec will manufacture motors for manned drones. Nedec is a South Korean motor manufacturer and bought Samsung Electro-Mechanics Co., Ltd.’s motor factories in Thailand last year. It currently has world’s biggest FDB (Fluid Dynamic Bearing) motor factories.
EpiScience, which is an American business specializing in national defense technologies, will be in charge of developing control system. It will develop software that processes information about drone’s flight and uploads it on a screen.
Volocopter developed manned drones that have 18 motors. It received an approval from German Government in March of this year regarding manned flight and is currently testing flights with men on board. Its goal is to have its drones fly up to 500km by 2020, and these drones cost between $1.91 million and $2.87 million (2.2 billion KRW and 3.3 billion KRW). “Drogen is the only sports drone manufacturing company in South Korea that manufactures its own software and hardware.” said CEO Lee Heung-shin at this event.
Drogen will also hold first ‘D1 Grand Prix’, which is a competition for sports drones, this summer, and the first prize will be $870,000 (100 million KRW). It will hold two more competitions by early next year.

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At this conference, Drogen introduced a drone frame called ‘PuzzleX 250SW’ that is based on open source frame. Along with its release in June, Drogen will also introduce all of its floor plans of PuzzleX 250SW’s design. When frame is damaged, it can be repaired through 3D printers.
Sports drones, which are manufactured for fast flights, are often damaged as they collide with walls and grounds and are different with drones for filming that are designed to have more stable flights. These sports drones have frames for beginners, which cost $25, that can be easily repaired through 3D printers when they are damaged.
FC ‘PIKAIA 1’has increased compatibility by having OSD built in and standardized indication of information. Pins are removed on top of FC, and it minimizes vibration by using smooth material for cables that connect PDB.
FC ‘PIKAIA 2’ is based on PIKAIA 1 and has fast CPU. It also has ‘hold altitude’ function that allows a drone to maintain its altitude at 1m high and it can use RTH (Return to Home) function while it is connected to GPS.
“A technology that can control many motors so that a drone can still fly safely even when few motors are turned off is the most important function for manned drones.” said CEO Lee. “AI (Artificial Intelligence) flight system that can increase safety for users will be needed in the future.”
Staff Reporter Lee, Jongjoon |