As a young kid, I was always so fascinated with the helicopter model that can be remotely controlled.
How is it possible that a helicopter model that is so much smaller than the real one can fly in the air without an actual human in it?
When I got way older, I discovered that the helicopter model I was always so fascinated with is called an RC Helicopter.
What is an RC Helicopter?
The RC helicopter or remote-controlled helicopter is a small flying helicopter model controlled remotely by a hand-held radio transmitter.
History of RC Helicopter
In the late 19th century, Hydrogen-filled model airships were the earliest examples of electronically guided model aircraft. They were flown by using a basic form of a spark-emitted radio signal.
During World War II, the U.S. Army and Navy used radio-controlled planes called Radioplanes as artillery target drones.
In the late 1930s, Igor Sikorsky designed the world's first practical helicopter, the VS-300. About forty years later, the first fully controllable RC model helicopter came to life, built by Dr Dieter Schluter.
In the early 1970s, the model helicopter kits became commercially available for the public to purchase. These kits had no carbon fibre, no computerised radio, no fybarless stabilisation, no engine governor or built-in glow driver.
In short, just having an electric-mechanical tail gyro in the 80s was a significant advancement.
Modern RC Helicopters are now often equipped with stability mode to prevent users from crashing and burning the models.
So, if Dr Dieter Schluter built the first fully controllable RC model helicopter, what is the Dandelions team currently doing?
Well, the answer is... the Gyrochute!
What Is A Gyrochute?
A gyrochute is an unpowered safe descent vehicle that relies on the principle of autorotation, not only air resistance. The name comes from the Greek "gyros" as the combination of the term "ring", "circle", and "spiral" and the French word "chute" for "fall".
The gyrochute works as an alternative technology to the parachute.
Similarities of RC Helicopter and Gyrochute
Unamanned Aerial Vehicle
The RC helicopter and the gyrochute are a type of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. UAV is an aircraft that can navigate without a human pilot on board.
The gyrochute relies on autorotation, a condition during which a helicopter's main rotor is driven only by aerodynamic forces with no power from the engine. Just like the helicopters, autorotation allows the gyrochute to safely land. The kinetic energy stored in the rotating blades is used to decrease the rate of descent and make a soft landing. RC helicopter is essentially a helicopter model. The RC helicopters also follow a helicopter's autorotation to land during power outage safely.
The RC helicopter and the gyrochute both have rigid designs. This rigid structure provides better strength to control and stabilise the vehicle during descent.
Differences between the RC helicopter and the Gyrochute
The RC helicopters use some source of energy to power the vehicle. They can either be electric-powered, nitro-powered, gas-powered or turbine-powered. The engine power options are designed to suit the users need. These powers allow the RC helicopters to ascend and descend.
The gyrochute, on the other hand, can only descend because it has no power.
The RC helicopters can move laterally and vertically.
The RC Helicopters have two rotors. The first rotor is used to change the RC helicopter's altitude by configuring the motor speed and the main rotor's RPM. Meanwhile, the second rotor is continuously rotating to maintain smooth yaw.
When the helicopter needs to change direction, it will change one of the rotors' speed, so it is different from the other. The amount of torque generated will cause the helicopter to turn one way, and it then can change direction.
The Gyrochute, just like the parachute, relies on air resistance and can only descend. The gyrochute uses air resistance as a second force that works against gravity to function.
In conclusion, the gyrochute and the RC helicopter are both a type of UAV with rigid designs that can be in the autorotation state. The RC helicopter is powered and can move laterally and vertically. Meanwhile, the gyrochute is unpowered and therefore can only descend.