New drone has five times longer flight time, claims ex-Tesla inventor

10 September 2018 - 15:53 By Reuters
A drone flies during the SA Schools training session in Stellenbosch last month.
A drone flies during the SA Schools training session in Stellenbosch last month.
Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

US start-up Impossible Aerospace said on Monday the first of its fully electric quadcopters, which can fly up to two hours on a single charge, nearly five times that of its closest competitors, will be delivered to customers later this year.

Founded by former Tesla Inc battery module design engineer Spencer Gore in 2016, the Sunnyvale, California-based firm said it also raised $9.4m in venture capital. This brings Impossible Aerospace's total funding to $11m.

The company claims the battery life of its US-1 drone outperforms other drones available in the market, which have about a 25-minute single-charge flight time.

The US-1, with a 26-inch frame, is capable of flying 90 minutes to two hours on a single charge and can recoup 75 percent of the battery with about 45 minutes of charging time, Gore said.

"The US-1 has been designed with a battery-first approach," he said, allowing it to endure longer flight time.

Gore believes his design can be scaled to all aircraft sizes, potentially allowing larger electric planes to effectively compete with the conventionally fuelled counterparts in future.

When it comes to "useful ranges and endurances in future (electric aircraft)... there has to be a new way of thinking about design," Gore said.

Impossible Aerospace expects to deliver the first of its drones, priced at about $7,000 each, without additional accessories, such as the camera, in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The target audience for the drones includes public safety markets, firefighters, police and search and rescue teams such as coastguards.