WING AVIATION LLC (Mountain View, CA)

An apparatus is provided to trigger an operational portion of a system move. This technique is based on driving a control or power signal via a conductor coupling member. The coupling member connects between two terminals of a power circuit. It also secures the operational part to the structural component. The method includes detecting an electrical disconnect between the first terminal and the second terminal. The method involves the determination of a mechanical break that is associated with the coupling component based on the electrical disconnect between the first terminal and the second. The method involves causing the operational member of the system to stop its movement in accordance with the determination of the mechanical break that is associated with the coupling member.

Unmanned vehicles, also known as autonomous vehicles, are those that operate independently of a human operator. Unmanned vehicles are able to operate in remote-control modes, autonomous modes, or apartially autonomous modes.

When an unmanned vehicle operates in a remote-control mode a pilot or driver that is in a remote location can direct the unmanned vehicle using commands that are sent to the unmanned vehicle via an internet connection. If the vehicle is operating in an autonomous mode, the vehicle usually moves in accordance with pre-programmed navigation wayspoints, dynamic automation systems, or any combination of these. Some autonomous vehicles are capable of operating in a remote-control or autonomous mode. In certain instances they might even be able to do both simultaneously. Remote pilots or drivers may want to control the navigation, while also performing manual tasks, such as picking up objects from mechanical systems.

Unmanned vehicles of various types are used in a variety of different types of environments. For instance, there are unmanned vehicles for use in the air or on the ground, underwater, and even in space. Quad-copters, tail-sitter UAVs , and others are just a few examples. Unmanned vehicles also exist for hybrid applications where multi-environment operations are possible. An amphibious craft capable of operating on both land and water or a floating aircraft capable of landing on water and land are examples of hybrid unmanned vehicles. There are other possibilities.

UAVs as well as aerial vehicles can include operational members that can be moved to carry out certain functions. Motors can drive a propeller to lift the vehicle. This may enable a UAV to, for instance to carry products. In certain circumstances, a coupling member, like a screw, clip, strap or something similar, might be broken or loose, and cause one or more operational members to become unsecure from a structuralmember like a boom arm of the UAV. In these situations the operational member could continue to move, but because it is not secured from the structural member and is not operating as anticipated. This could negatively impact other parts of the system because it introduces ambiguity in the operation of at least one part of the system.

As a result, it would be desirable to trigger an operational member secured to a structural member by using a coupling member to stop moving responsive to a mechanical break in the coupling member. This could allow the system tooperate more predictably or even while performing one or more actions responsive to the mechanical break.

The present inventions offer an aerial vehicle, a method, and system in which the operational member ceases to move in response to a mechanical rupture in a coupling. The power circuit can be utilized to provide a power or control signal to the member that is operating. A conductive coupling element is a component of the power circuit. The coupling member is located in the power circuit such that, if the coupling member experiences an electrical break it stops receiving the power signal or the control signal, and then ceases to move.

Within examples, the operational member includes an electric motor that is designed to move a propeller and the coupling member includes the screw. The screw could be made of a conductive metal and is a component of the power circuit. When the threads of the screw get removed, the screw will no will be able to hold the motor securely to the structural component (e.g., a boom arm on the aerial vehicle). Furthermore, since the control or power signal is transmitted to the motor through the screw, the threads being strippedalso prevents the motor from receiving the power or signal for control. In this case and in other cases the conductive properties of a coupling member can be used to sense and limit mechanical breakdowns in the system.

In one aspect there is an aerial vehicle provided. The aerial vehicle is equipped with an electrical power circuit. The operational component of the aerial vehicle is designed to react to the power or control signal generated by its power circuit. The aerial vehicle has an element of structural design that can stabilize one or more of the operational members of the aerial vehicle. A coupling component is used to connect the operational member to the structural members at an place. A conductive material is incorporated into the power circuit that connects the first and the second terminals of the. The mechanical breaking of coupling members leads to: (i), the operational member being freed from the structural component at the contact points and (ii), an electrical disconnection between the first and second terminals. The electrical disconnect interrupts the power or control signal, thus preventing the operational member’s movement.

In another way the method is described. The method includes causing an operational member of an apparatus to move. This method involves the transmission of a power or control signal through a conductor coupling member. The coupling member is connected to a first and second terminals in the power circuit. It also connects the functional member to the structural member. This method is used to detect an electrical disconnect between the first and second terminals. The method also includes the determination of a mechanical break that is associated with the coupling member based on the electrical disconnect between the first terminal and the second. The method includes causing the operational member ofthe system to stop moving depending on the identification of the mechanical break that is associated with the coupling member.

A system is also offered in another way. The system includes an energy circuit. The system comprises a variety of operational members designed to move responsive to receiving specific control or power signals from the power circuit. The system includes the structural member or members designed to stabilize the plurality of operational members. The system comprises a variety of coupling members that are designed to join the plurality of operational members to the one or more structuralmembers at a plurality of contact points. Each of the coupling members comprises an conductive material which is incorporated into the power circuit between the respective first and second terminals. A mechanical break in a particular coupling member causes: (i) the respective operational member corresponding the respective coupling members to break away from the structural member that is corresponding to the contact points that correspond, and (iii) an electrical disconnect between the first and second terminals. The electrical disconnect stops a respective power or control signal from reaching the respective operational member and thereby stops the respectiveoperational member from moving. The present embodiments also provide a system. The system comprises means for causing the operational part of the system to move. It also has the ability to drive an electric signal or a control signal via a conductivecoupling element. The conductive coupling member is connected between a primary terminal and a second in a power circuit, and the coupling member is used to secure the operational component to a structural component of the system. The system has means to detect an electrical connection between the terminals first and second. The system includes means for finding a mechanical break with the coupling component based on the disconnect in electrical power between the first terminal and thesecond terminal. Based on the identification of the break in the mechanical connection to the coupling member the system is equipped with means to cause the member that is operating to stop its movement.

This, along with other advantages, aspects, and alternative options will be apparent to anyone with a basic understanding in the field by going through the detailed description and referring, where appropriate, to the accompanying drawings. It is essential to recognize that this summary section, as well as other sections of this document are intended to show the subject matter claimed and not to limit the scope of the subject matter.

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