Thanks to several Green Initiatives that were launched in a bid to reduce carbon emissions, we now have a significant number of electric vehicles in circulation. We have enjoyed tremendous technological advancement, and this has improved the range and the speed of electric vehicles. But this was not always so.
Before fully electric vehicles came along, we have hybrid-electric vehicles (HEV) and these vehicles served their purpose; reducing carbon emissions while providing the long-distance operation conventional cars have.
We are about to see a repeat of this phenomenon, however, this time we’re dealing with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Simply call it a Toyota Prius for the sky. Seriously, the idea for a hybrid drone finds its root in the renowned hybrid vehicle and it was developed as a solution to the payload and endurance problems commonly experienced by drones.
Comparing a hybrid drone to a hybrid vehicle might be ideal for illustration purposes, but practically these two cannot be any more different. The engine of a hybrid electric vehicle is not as complicated due to the less severe weight and volume requirements. However, a drone’s engine must be compact and light, delivering the same amount of power as you would expect in a car’s equivalent.
This makes it more difficult to work around the heat, vibration, and other challenges. The founder of one of the top drone manufacturing companies was once quoted saying, “Often the engine will literally melt because you’re running it so hot.”
So, the solution is both simple and effective. Heat transfer principles coupled with fundamental control techniques are used to ensure that the issue is resolved. For instance, small fans, cooling fins, rubber vibration dampeners, etc. were installed in the prototype. This solution proved to be extremely successful, providing a flight time of 2.5 hours. This was 1.5 hours more than their initial estimate.
The company’s foremost innovation is the digital gearbox which behaves just like an aircraft engine. The only difference is that this system is controlled by electricity. The generator is powered by the gasoline and the digital gearbox sends pulses to the electric motor and the power electronics.
Because the gearbox controls the pulses sent to the motor, the torque and speed are well-controlled. This makes it possible to enjoy the same advantages of a conventional transmission system in a more efficient, affordable, and flexible mode.
This drone has improved endurance capabilities, advanced payload, providing an approximate flying time of about 2+ hours. This vehicle can reach a maximum speed of 40 miles per hour while supporting a maximum payload of 20 pounds. In total, it can cover a range of 100 miles, withstanding unfavorable wind conditions up to 35 miles per hour.
The underpinning technology for this flight system is Top Flight’s Advance Autopilot System responsible for the calibration and the tuning. This drone also consists of a 5000W rated hybrid engine, a tank with a 3-gallon capacity, and a 16,000 mAh LiPo battery.
This vehicle is capable of operating in the manual, semi-autonomous, or the fully-autonomous mode. It is equipped with a flight data recorder and an RC remote which works within the 2-mile radius. It also boasts a high-definition 8 MP camera.
When you consider the flight time and the performance, you realize that it offers you more than any other drone can. This efficiency is as a result of the fact that the drone uses batteries as a backup for the gasoline engine.
Drones with such extensive flight time will find application in several existing industries; the most prominent being military. However, there are other areas where hybrid drones will be much appreciated. For instance, agile aerospace, communications, air taxis, and inspection of transmission lines for power delivery.
Similarly, retail companies looking to transform their delivery system are in need of drones with increased flight time that can carry heavy baggage. This technology will drastically revolutionize deliver for companies like Google, Amazon, and USPS especially.
For even more advanced systems, barrels of oil or other dangerous explosives can be mounted on the drones and used for military applications.
Contact: Zhuhai SVFFI Aviation Co., Ltd.
Add: Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province, Jinwan District Aerospace New Town Planning Exhibition Hall, 3rd Floor