• It's interesting how emotional a discussion like this can get. It probably reflects the frustration that many of us have experienced trying to attain elusive goals that feel like they should be within reach. But any of us who have tried to undoubtedly figured out all the variables and trade-offs that go into flight-time vs. performance. The best we can do is make improvements around the fringes to squeeze out a little more of either until (mainly) new battery technologies are commercialized. That said, I think we should support one another in the quest to do better.

    A 1 hour UAV is feasible, but like one of the other posts pointed out, its "usefulness" is probably compromised at that point unless shooting videos with a GoPro in calm weather is the goal.

    Our goal is developing the FreeBird One was to maximize usefulness and flight time. We focused on the airframe, realizing that all we could do on motors, batteries, props, etc, was employ the most efficient set-up that we could find for the type of UAV we were trying to develop. The UAV pictured below is meant for all types of commercial use, able to carry just about any type of attachment you can think of mounted at numerous pre-threaded mounting points all around the vehicle - both above and below. It's about 3 feet in diameter, has a structurally-enclosed frame that can take some pretty hard bumps from foreign objects (like walls or trees). It flies in rain, snow, and high winds. We just posted a new video today showing position hold accuracy in 30-40MPH wind gusts that we were fortunate to experience a couple days ago. Not only does it hold its position (and get back there quickly when occasionally pushed away), but the video demonstrates some pretty good raw power.

    We test only in real-world conditions, so nothing in-doors. We want to show what a real user would experience. Max flight time for the FreeBird One is about 43 mins with a 54AH 6S LiHV pack. With a GoPro and 3-axis gimbal, it's about 40 mins. With 2KG of payload (heavier camera, gimbal, etc), flight time is 28 mins with 10% reserve. Max payload is around 18 pounds. Max take-off weight is about 27 pounds. Max range is 12-13 miles, max horizontal speed for autonomous missions is about 45 MPH. The setup in this video had a 13AH 6S LiPo and weighed about 11.5 pounds with battery and top-mounted GoPro/gimbal.

    What makes this possible for us is a 100% 3D-printed carbon fiber airframe. We've been able to create an airframe that we don't think could be done with the same strength-weight characteristics as an injection-molded body or frame assembled from pre-fabricated carbon fiber tubes or plates.

    Hybrid designs with wings, horizontal ducted fan motors, etc are all interesting and valid ways to get more performance and flight time. It really comes down to what the goal is. We think there are lots of things these vehicles will do in the future, and we wanted to build a very flexible platform to enable experimentation and development of new UAV use opportunities. We've experimented with some unconventional uses with FreeBird One - as a snowblower for rooftops (with a scraping attachment for impacted snow), to tow payloads (it can pull about 100 pounds on wheels) with a rope attached, as a power washer (to clean structures that would otherwise need tall ladders), and the list goes on.



    I couldn't get the youtube video to embed properly, so just click the link below if interested.

  • Are you negotiating with Hollywood studios about the video?

  • That's the point Haydar. The batteries are the heaviest part on a drone followed by the motors. And that's exactly what we tackle.

    Motor prototyping is ongoing in parallel. However it is neither easy nor inexpensive to work on it. So it will take quite some time...

    Finally, the magic goes on... Bear with us.

  • Interesting stuff, Stmpngrnd.  I think Kaan would have gained considerable credibility if he'd pointed this out in his original post rather than presenting "magic"

    I still think the frame is more art than science, so he loses points for that feature...

  • Yes, the Halbach Array has a great future in UAVs:

    A high power density, high efficiency axial flux Halbach array moto...

    In my most designs the motors have about 50% of the mass of the empty copter.

    If you can reduce the motor mass by 2/3, your copter-empty-mass could be reduced by 1/3 - and thats a really big number.

    But I don't see any Halbach Motor Prototypes at Turncircles, just a rendering/simulation.

    I am very curious, when they will show a Halbach Motor Prototype…
  • @ Kaan

    I'm still looking forward to her video

  • just for everyone who missed this on their website

    and some interesting info regarding Halbach Array motors

  • From everyone's frame of experience with currently available motor and battery of 1 hour durations will always come across as fairy tales.  Now the fact that this company is developing Halbach Array motors ...that is an entirely different beast and could very well change what we all think a 1 hr duration quad is supposed to look like as this type of motor blows away conventional brushless designs as far as energy density and efficiency goes.

    I for one am eager to see what a Halbach style multirotor motor can do!

  • Hi Andrew,

    Once I make the video I will upload it on our youtube channel. I will keep you informed.

    Aergion is pretty nice! Similar 3 leg design is what my partner is for. I, on the other hand, prefer Yuneec Q500 style.

    Gimbal fixes the landing gear. You can get an idea here:

    What you see below is the socket connection. Then comes the landing gear and you can attach the gimbal that at the same time fixes the landing gear...

  • Is the video still coming, I figured it was a simple upload. Also is the landing gear mounted on a gimbal like the Aergion? 

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Aug 25