Float Switch Heroes: Breaking the Unmanned Flight Record
“Float Switch Heroes” is a new feature here at FPI where we’ll share stories of fantastic float switches and liquid level sensors from around the world. We’ll look for these humble, hard-working devices wherever they’re found, from unexpected applications to harsh environments to unorthodox designs – whatever catches our eye.
This week’s Float Switch Hero comes from high in the sky, where a custom liquid level sensor played a vital role in shattering the world endurance record for nonstop flight of a mini-class unmanned aircraft. The previous record was 38 hours, but the Penguin B UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) designed by UAV Factory flew for nearly 54.5 hours before landing.
Among the challenges faced in engineering the record-breaking plane was balancing the extremely limited available space and weight capacity with the need for sufficient fuel. The fuel tank had a capacity of only 7.5 liters distributed between the fuselage and a wing, creating an unusual shape and leaving no space for mounting a sensor at the top of the tank.
In order to monitor fuel consumption, a unique level sensor was designed that could be side mounted thanks to a specially angled probe connected to cutting-edge microelectronics which allowed for a smaller and lighter sensor – a mere 60 grams. Thanks to that innovative design, the Penguin B could realize maximum fuel efficiency and land safely just as the tank was nearing empty.
Up in the sky – it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a float switch hero!