It would probably be more spectacular a test flight of 4 hours but i was very interested in performing this test because it is very near to real use of Hybrix.20. 4 or 4.5 hours are possible for demonstration test but operational flight time is around 3 hours with light payload to 2 hours for heavy payload.
Lately many customers are telling us about electric multi-rotors flying for 2 hours or hydrogen fuel cells with 4 hours of endurance. It would be interesting to see these multirotors with heavy payloads.
I hope you like it guys
Jose Luis Cortes
Here we go again in the old debate about simplicity/safety of multicopters versus helicopters. I personally welcome this development as, for most applications it is much safer and mechanically simpler to maintain (simple mechanics, a multi never killed anyone) versus an helicopter (complex mechanics and sadly killed users multiple times). I know Rob doesn't agree but that is my opinion that I agree with :)
Yeah, I don't mean to take away from this development. What these guys are doing is certainly very interesting, and they're doing a good job. I agree that, if you must use a multirotor, and want long flight times, a gas-hybrid makes way more sense than hydrogen fuel cells. And it also makes far more sense that a pure-mechanical gas powered quadcopter with mechanical power distribution and variable pitch props.
I just don't want this discussion to perpetuate myths. Namely, that helicopters have to be unreliable. And that you can scale up multirotors indefinitely. So this development is *not* a pathway to long-range manned multirotors.
I agree that the main point of the concept is not if it's mono or multirotor, but that it has a very small hybrid engine. That's innovative at least for drones and brings a solution to a real market need.
In addition it improves safety by being able to land just on electric power, and safety is certainly another market need.
Just for these two points I think it's a concept that will have success and maybe attract the attention of large players like Google / Amazon.
Maybe the flight time could be doubled with a monorotor, but to me 2 hr flight time is already plenty and sufficient for most usages.
About time someone finally did it. The biggest challenge was getting a generator powerful enough in a small enough space.
A shame uninformed customers are driving development of the inferior platform for long duration and high payload applications. I guess the more props the sexier it is and easier to get the CFO, COO ,CEO C-whatever-whatever to sign of on it so marketing can spew how cutting edge their business is in their "fill in the blank" industry.
Amazing work. Congrats.
I remember when Rob presented his Procyon. Someone asked him why electric and he answered something very simple which, however, is sometimes difficult to understand for many: The reason for making it electric, is simply because it is what many people want. (Rob, please excuse me if I citate you!)
In my opinion it is the same case: customers demand drones, and if a customer close the eyes and think of a drone, he will sees a multirotor.
Surely your arguments are correct (unfortunately I lack the knowledge necessary to hold a technical discussion), and possibly a solution with a single rotor has many advantages. But. Today, if I open a business to sell UAVs, I would focus on multirotors.
Yes, I know, I'm not at all a romantic guy! :)
There is no valid argument against this system, other than the fact that it is not a helicopter. This is a marvelous achievement. This is coming from a guy who hates IC engines and hybrids. I hope this team has all of their intellectual property in place...
I agree Giovanni. I can't see how it will ever outperform a standard gas powered helicopter in real flight. A helicopter could be designed with the exact same engine. And then it would weigh less, as it doesn't need the generator, backup battery, motors, or ESC. And then, it will have a larger disk area, for greater efficiency.
Case in point, I actually have a gas helicopter with the same engine. It weighs about 7.5kg, and has 2.5m2 disk area.
They're claiming 11.5kg empty weight, and assuming 29" props, 1.7m2 disk area.
Also, they claim cruise speed of 70 km/h. My gas heli is happy at 120 km/h, and actually requires no extra power compared to hover to do so. It's also a more compact and easy to transport airframe. Well-designed helicopters are mechanically very reliable. They wouldn't be so popular in manned aviation were it not so. They are a solved problem. And finally, fixed pitch propeller stabilization does not scale up very well. This is why most of the manned-multirotor concepts use a great number of small propellers.
There are reasons why this system is interesting. But let's think about those instead of creating falsehoods.
Case in point, here is a UAV based on a single-seat manned helicopter that has already proven safe and reliable over years of operation. It could have a flight time of 3 hours with a 200lb payload and cruise speed of 135 km/h. It could be built today for about $100,000. IMO, these manned electric multirotor things are just engineering toys.
How much fuel did you have on board? (gasoline/oil mix)
What motor/generator are you using? Fuel injected/carburator? Did you have electric starter onboard? Is it reliable? How many hours are you getting between engine rebuilds?
Traditional gas helicopter with bigger and very reliable engines have already longer flight times, not considering the wind resistance / speed, etc...
It's cool but can't see how this solve any problem compared to a traditional helicopter, it's still heavy, too big to have prop protections, much slower than a heli, etc....
Joe: Why not ?, I think this configuration is safer than a conventional helicopter. reason is mechanical simplicity and redundancy power source. For example in this test we fly until the engine stopped (with emply fuel tank) and we landed with the motor already stopped.
Rob: In this test 3,5kg. We say 20kg mtow but the current performance can lift 22kg so a payload of 5kg is possible right now. Anyway I think real applications will be in the range of 1kg to 2kg or so, for example this days we have been testing a high performance EO/IR ball camera for a customer, it was only about 1kg.