Latest in Science

Image credit:

Drone flies as both biplane and helicopter using one propeller

The DelftAcopter could be the perfect aircraft for remote rescue operations.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
October 2, 2016
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

There are helicopter drones and fixed-wing drones, but creating a hybrid of both is tricky. Even Parrot's Swing, as clever as it is, needs four propellers and elaborate wings to pull off its stunt. However, TU Delft (with backing from Parrot) has a far more elegant solution. Its DelftAcopter drone doubles as both a fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter using only one propeller -- its tailless biplane design lets it take off and hover vertically, but gracefully turn into a fast-moving airplane (up to 62MPH) at a moment's notice. It's an incredibly simple design that makes you wonder why someone hadn't considered it for drones before.

The machine is completely autonomous thanks to GPS, motion sensors and computer vision -- it can pick a safe place to land all on its own. The prototype has a relatively long 37-mile range, too, and it can run for an hour on its electric motor. Contrast that with a typical quadcopter drone like DJI's Phantom 4, which lasts for 28 minutes and tops out at 45MPH.

And unlike some drone experiments, TU Delft already has a clear idea of what its vehicle will do. The DelftAcopter would carry medical supplies to and from hard-to-reach places -- you could deliver much-needed medicine to a flood zone. It's not hard to imagine uses in search-and-rescue and recon missions, too. While it'll likely take a while before you see the robotic biplane enter service (it only just got its first major trial run this week), it's easy to see this invention saving lives.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

Google adds Nest Secure to its list of discontinued projects

Google adds Nest Secure to its list of discontinued projects

View
LG's rollable OLED TV goes on sale for $87,000

LG's rollable OLED TV goes on sale for $87,000

View
iPhone 12 and 12 Pro review: Apple enters the 5G era

iPhone 12 and 12 Pro review: Apple enters the 5G era

View
Apple will reportedly add 5G support for iPhone 12 in dual SIM mode

Apple will reportedly add 5G support for iPhone 12 in dual SIM mode

View
New trailer for 'The Mandalorian' season two brings back most of our old friends

New trailer for 'The Mandalorian' season two brings back most of our old friends

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr