Fixed-wing drones are more energy-efficient than quadcopters, and can cover long distances more quickly. Quadcopters, however, require less space to take off and land. That's why some groups have developed drones that take and land vertically, yet transition to horizontal flight while airborne. One of the latest, AeroVironment's Quantix, is designed to be particularly easy to use.

Intended for industrial applications such as remote sensing and surveying, the aircraft is programmed via a dedicated Android tablet-style controller.

Users start by inputing a flightpath that they wish it to follow, by simply tracing their finger over a map on the tablet's screen. Next, they're guided through a pre-flight checklist. Finally, they just press Fly on the controller, and the drone takes off.

It proceeds to fly along its predetermined path at a user-selected altitude, gathering data with its color and multispectral sensors. Once the mission is completed, it lands vertically back at its takeoff point. Should the flight need to be called off part-way through, however, the user can just hit Land Now or Return Home.

Pricing information isn't available at this time, although the company is taking inquiries from prospective buyers. The Quantix drone is expected to start shipping next spring (Northern Hemisphere).

More information is available in the following video.

View gallery - 3 images