Drones

Ring-shaped dual-prop drone boasts twice the flight time of quadcopters

Ring-shaped dual-prop drone bo...
Samir Bouabdallah, with what could be described as his "bicopter"
Samir Bouabdallah, with what could be described as his "bicopter"
View 1 Image
Samir Bouabdallah, with what could be described as his "bicopter"
1/1
Samir Bouabdallah, with what could be described as his "bicopter"

The shorter a drone's propellers, the less efficient they are at keeping it airborne. That factor, along with compact, low-capacity batteries, is the reason that small drones can't fly for very long. A new two-prop drone, however, is claimed to deliver twice the flight time as similar-sized quadcopters.

The prototype is being developed by Swiss startup Flybotix, which was spun off of Switzerland's EPFL research institute. Its founder, Samir Bouabdallah, also developed drones at ETH Zurich.

Measuring about 30 cm wide (12 inches), the ring-shaped drone has two counter-rotating horizontal propellers stacked one above the other within its foam body. Because those props are longer than those that would be used in a same-size quadcopter, they provide more lift. Additionally, because the battery is only powering two motors instead of four, it doesn't run out as quickly.

Specially-developed algorithms are used to stabilize and control the drone, by monitoring and adjusting the rotational speed and tilt of the propellers. This setup is similar in purpose to the transmission system that helicopters use to control their pitch, although it's claimed to be much simpler and lighter, and reportedly makes the drone as easy to operate as a regular quadcopter.

And in the event that pilots do accidentally bump the aircraft into things, its foam body should cause it to harmlessly bounce off. With that in mind, one of its main planned applications is the inspection of hard-to-reach areas within industrial facilities. The prototype can be seen in action, in the video below.

Flybotix hopes to have a commercial product out soon, initially in the Chinese market. It may ultimately face some competition from another ring-shaped dual-prop drone, made by Canada's Cleo Robotics.

Source: EPFL

New dual-propeller drone can fly twice as long

8 comments
Nobody
Watch as multi motor small propeller drones morph back into one or two blade helicopters because a larger propeller is far more efficient.
owlbeyou
Yeah but the larger the propeller the more power required to make it spin.
Paulinator
That's miniaturized 50's technology. Their foam body is a duct. It's a duckted fan. (see what I did their?) When ducted fans fly sideways with any speed...things go sideways in a bad way.
windykites
Why not use one motor with contra-rotating gears?
jerryd
About time more went this much more efficient way I've been advocating for yrs. I'd even go larger rotors for more efficiency, 4x the range, ditch the ring for a pod under the rotors and control it like a Gyrocopter by leaning the rotors in the direction you want to go. Hands off it'll just sit there naturally stabilized , no computers needed.
piolenc
Would get better efficiency if the duct were properly shaped. I'm trying to figure out whether he is actually applying cyclic pitch control to the rotors. The video is highly un-informative.
Fritz
I am curious: How long it will take that the helicopter is (re)invented? Lift by aerodynamics is much more efficient than thrust, right?
Vernon Miles Kerr
Can you imagine the sky above your home in a few years, with drones, and flying bots criss-crossing in every direction, on delivery and security missions? I can also hear the perpetual hum, not unlike a microphone pressed to the wall of a beehive. The only way to escape the sight & sound pollution will be a trip to the wilderness.