Australian manufacturer Swoop Aero developed the first end-to-end drone logistics platform capable of delivering vital payloads to remote areas. While many transport drone companies use multiple complex systems and aircraft types to support regional transport operations worldwide, Swoop Aero’s fully integrated drone, launch, and control system—with no need for plug-ins or external dependencies—makes its services more secure and affordable.
Swoop Aero’s initial Kookaburra™ and its latest Kite™ drone aircraft have helped save thousands of lives by delivering vaccines and medicine to hard-to-reach areas, including remote locations in Vanuatu, Mozambique, Malawi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
According to Andrew Thomas, Chief Product Officer and project lead of the airframe design team, Swoop Aero developed its Kookaburra drone using SOLIDWORKS® desktop 3D design solutions via the SOLIDWORKS for Startups program. When the company needed increased collaboration and improved data management capabilities, it sought a cloud-based solution to support remote work and transparent product data management in the cloud.
“When we began developing the Kite aircraft in late 2021/early 2022, we wanted to improve product data and life cycle management as we undertook designing an aircraft that represented a greater level of complexity and sophistication,” Thomas explains. “We also needed to ramp up production and believed that a cloud-based solution could help us develop, manage, and produce a more complicated design more quickly and affordably.” Swoop Aero added solutions from the cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE® Works portfolio to its existing SOLIDWORKS desktop installation.
Managing Complex Engineering Challenges
Using lessons learned from more than 22,000 flights with the Kookaburra drone, Swoop Aero began developing the Kite transport drone with advanced detect and avoid safety technology housed in injection-molded parts in a modular design.
“With a modular design of an incredibly complex aircraft, in which certain components and assemblies can be switched out to, for example, handle different payloads, we needed a way to keep on top of data management without the expense of a full-time PDM administrator,” Thomas continues. “The cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE platform allowed us to conduct fast design iterations while easily managing all the resulting revisions to design data. With 3DEXPERIENCE Works solutions, our designers can keep their focus on the design and collaborate more effectively, resulting in faster development.”
Swoop Aero is also tapping into digital twin technologies to support every one of its flights; the technology provides real-time data for each of its aircraft’s onboard analytics, movements, and functionality, providing supreme control and safety. “We operate a virtual twin in the cloud—an exact digital replica of the entire aircraft—configured for each specific flight,” Thomas points out. “The virtual twin lets us monitor what is happening with an aircraft in flight as well as send updates to address detected issues.”
Collaboration Leads to Success
With such complex engineering, Swoop Aero has benefited from the speed and collaborative nature of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform during development. “Our company has a great culture, and the interesting thing about the 3DEXPERIENCE platform is that it’s designed to support how we work, providing the agility and collaboration that leads to success,” Thomas stresses.
If you’d like more information about how adding cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE Works to your SOLIDWORKS installation can accelerate innovative design and improve collaboration, contact your local reseller.