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Blue Peter UAV built by 3T

blue-peter-winner-izzy-with-iflyer-1342171548   iflyer-1342171566 The Brief: BBC Research and Development and the University of Southampton worked together to develop a low cost solution for some of the BBC’s aerial filming requirements.  The University approached 3T to join the project following on from the success of the previous partnership in 2011 which resulted in the world’s first AM plane. The Solution: Additive Manufacturing has a proven track record as a technology for use in UAV design and production.  The University produced designs for key parts of the aircraft:

  • Main fuselage
  • Rear fuselage
  • Wing tips
  • Cross section of wing
  • Nose cone
  • Rear aerofoil mounts
  • Rear wing tips
  • Camera mounting

The aircraft will require CAA approval and so all aspects of its build are safety critical and need to meet stringent quality standards.  The University has capitalised on the technology’s ability to produce multiple iterations of design rapidly and also to rapidly produce duplicate parts if required, for example resulting from damage to the airframe from heavy landings. The plane has a wingspan of 4.2m and an overall length of 2.6m.  It can reach a maximum speed of 42.5mph and at a cruising speed of 24.5mph the flight time can be up to two hours. The Result: The plane will be flown by the BBC during the summer of 2012 and is thought to be first UAV of its kind to be used for commercial broadcasting in the UK.  It will be licensed by the CAA and will have the capability to stream HD footage directly from the aircraft to a BBC computer in real time. Extra Bits: BBC’s Blue Peter is the world’s longest running children’s TV programme.  It has a long tradition of running competitions and in April 2012 it premiered the UAV and challenged its viewers to name and design the graphics for the plane. 3T’s Ian Halliday was part of the Blue Peter judging panel and 3T was tasked with converting the winning 2D graphic in to 3D reality and paint the plane – meeting a very tight deadline. On 12 July 2012, Izzy Bennett’s design and name, ‘iflyer’, was announced on-air, and the ‘iflyer’s’ inaugural flight was broadcast. When the plane is working for the BBC and broadcasting live HD footage, people will be able to see Izzy’s design as the underside of the plane reads ‘hello down there’!

Related Links:

BBC Research and Development

Southampton University – MSc Unmanned Vehicle Systems Design

BBC Blue Peter

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