Precision Fuel Level Sensors for UAVs, Drones and VTOL Unmanned Helicopters

Q&A with Fuel Level Sensor Manufacturer Reventec

Jack Birmingham, Senior Engineer at Reventec, takes time out to talk to UST about the company's capacitive fuel level sensors for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) Feature Article by Reventec
Q&A with Fuel Level Sensor Manufacturer Reventec
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Jack Birmingham, Senior Engineer at Reventec who oversees all liquid level sensing projects, sat down with to discuss why UAV manufacturers should consider fuel level sensing, and what sets Reventec’s sensors apart.

Q&A with Fuel Level Sensor Manufacturer Reventec

A selection of UAV capacitive liquid level sensors.

What are the key advantages of implementing fuel level sensing within a UAV?

The main advantage for installing a fuel level sensor in unmanned aircrafts and other uncrewed vehicle platforms is ultimately to understand how much fuel is on board and available for consumption. Knowing your exact fuel level equips UAV operators with the power to make data-based decisions and enables airframe manufacturers to develop UAV’s with superior range extension.

The demand for precision fuel level analysis in fuel-powered UAVs is growing as advanced UAV’s have an ever-expanding list of use purposes, such as surveillance, reconnaissance, agricultural monitoring and defence.

Why are capacitive liquid level sensors better than other technologies for UAV applications?

Q&A with Fuel Level Sensor Manufacturer Reventec

LMS100-MICRO Liquid Level Sensor.

With a variety of liquid level sensing technologies available on the market, choosing the right one that works best for your application is imperative. We advocate that a capacitive-based liquid level sensor is best for most unmanned aerial vehicle applications as the device is a solid-state instrument, vibration-tolerant and shock resistant, and achieves high measurement accuracy – making it extremely reliable.

Our capacitive liquid level sensors are unaffected by physical orientation allowing them to be fitted at any angle for easy installation in hard to reach fuel tanks. In comparison, level sensing devices such as float switch sensors that are commonly used in industrial applications have moving parts which require regular maintenance and may have impaired accuracy when used in moving vehicles where liquid sloshing occurs. Reventec capacitive liquid level sensors are lightweight, highly durable and deliver long-term reliability proven in extreme environments.

What sets Reventec apart from other liquid level sensor manufacturers?

Reventec’s core focus and specialism is engineering customised high-performance sensing products. Whilst some competitors offer ‘off-the-shelf’ products that require a customer to design their fuel tank around a sensors dimensions, making the design process restrictive, we know from our discussions with industry that tailor-made sensors like ours are extremely helpful for low-volume and bespoke projects. We work with our customers to manufacture sensors to the exact length, geometry and mounting arrangements that would best suit their application and specific project.

Reventec discusses fuel level sensors with UST

The LSM500-CONTOUR is designed with a custom contour bend.

As our UK-based manufacturing facility is situated alongside our design and development office, we are capable of engineering bespoke capacitive liquid level sensors such as the ultra-lightweight LSM100-MICRO and the LSM500-CONTOUR, pictured. This LSM500-CONTOUR liquid level sensor was built with a custom contour matching the shape of the existing oil dipstick that it was replacing and was an ideal drop-in replacement for a defence customer. Upgrading the dipstick with a smart oil level sensor that monitors the level in real-time streamlined vehicle inspection by reducing the need for daily manual maintenance checks ensuring vehicles are ready for quick deployment.

Whether customers need a contour designed sensor to accommodate spatial constraints, measure abnormal-shaped tanks, or for fuel tanks in hard to reach places, Reventec designs measurement devices that can be installed in any orientation allowing for convenient placement and easy access.

Another feature that sets Reventec apart from other liquid level sensor manufacturers is that all of our capacitive liquid level sensors are calibrated in the customers fluid of choice and the intended liquid that the sensor will be measuring. The advantage of this compared to a simple calibration in water results in a much deeper level of precision and achieves accuracies of ±0.5% of reading.

Our capacitive liquid level sensing technology and individual sensors are also designed to meet many MIL-STD-461F and RCTA DO160F EMC standards ensuring that these comply with military standards and are suitable for an array of defence platforms.

Do you have any specific case studies that you can share with our readers?

Reventec discusses fuel level sensors with UST

The LS200 Fuel Level Sensor fitted to the Alpha 900 fuel tank.

Due to the types of projects that we get involved in, we are unable to disclose a number of the platforms that we currently support but we are pleased to share that Alpha Unmanned Systems utilise our 2-bolt fuel level sensor within their Alpha 900 – a small military-grade uncrewed aerial helicopter. The Alpha 900 joined us on our stand at DSEI this year and was a great demonstration of how our liquid level sensors are fitted.

We continue to supply a number of defence UAV platforms, one of which is Sheild AI’s V-BAT (formerly known as Martin UAV). More information can be found in the case study: Advanced Fuel Measurement Technology Used on V-BAT Tactical UAS .

Where do you see this technology evolving?

We are constantly developing our technologies based on customer requirements and where we see demand growing. As our capacitive liquid level sensing technology is extremely versatile, we are continuously evolving the features that we offer.

Within our product roadmap, we have scheduled to offer additional output options including a configurable Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) outputs and we are developing DRONECAN protocol. This will become available to customers over the coming months.

To stay up-to-date, follow us on LinkedIn and if you have a customised liquid level sensor requirement, get in touch to discuss your application with one of our team.

To learn more, contact Reventec: Visit Website Send Message View Supplier Profile
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