XTEND say that operators can fly one of their drones like a pro within a few minutes of trying it out

Wednesday, February 21st, 2024

Skilled FPV drone operators are becoming the most feared opponents in the war in Ukraine, David Hambling notes:

When a Ukrainian drone strike team recently took out the Russian FPV operator known as Moisey it was seen as a big success. Moisey was personally credited with destroying dozens of vehicles and killing almost 400 Ukrainian soldiers.

Standard consumer quadcopters like the ubiquitous DJI Mavic series are designed to be flown out of the box by an untrained user. The operator does not exactly fly the drone so much as tell it where to go, with the drone doing all the piloting and preventing crashes. The drone will auto-hover at a fixed point even in gusty winds and, thanks to sonar and other sensors, avoid obstacles.


FPVs by contrast are stripped-down racing machines without any of the piloting aides on standard quadcopters. This is partly a matter of cost, but mainly to do with speed — a drone switched to manual mode with all the obstacle avoidance turned off is faster than one in normal mode where speed is automatically limited to how fast it can fly safely.

This is why FPV pilots wear VR-style goggles: they need to have good situational awareness, to look ahead and plan their path to avoid flying into things. FPV cameras have a wide field of view so the operator does not make a sharp turn and find a wall in front of them.


Russia’s Academy BAS says its combat FPV operator course takes a month, working 12 hour days with no days off. The equivalent training at Ukraine’s Victory Drones takes 33 days, and participants are expected to have 20 hours practice on a simulator before they start. The pass rate on FPV courses can be as low as 60%, compared to up to 95% for regular drones.

The average hit rate for FPV drones is sometimes quoted at 10% whereas highly skilled operators may succeed with 70% or more of their attacks.


XTEND say that operators can fly one of their drones like a pro within a few minutes of trying it out. This includes carrying out tricky maneuvers like flying through doorways or windows, which is exactly the kind of skill needed by an FPV kamikaze operator, or even flying around inside buildings or tunnels.

The intelligence provided by XTEND also solves one of the big issues with current FPVs, that of losing communication in the last second of flight as the drone drops below the radio horizon.

“Our XOS operating system enables a drone to have several ‘state’ solutions to determine what happens during comms-failure, including: hover, continue to target, return to home, patrol, and more,” says Shapira.

This effectively allows the operator to ‘lock on’ to a target as soon as they identify it, so the drone will find a target even if it is evading rapidly, or the signal is lost due to jamming or other causes. In principle XOS could be trained to aim at the weak spot on a target, such as the turret rear of Russian tanks where an FPV hit often results in instant destruction.


Last year, XTEND signed a contract to supply Israel’s Ministry of Defence with a multi-drone operating system enabling an operator to control “dozens of human-guided semi-autonomous drones simultaneously.”

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