Drones

Record-breaking hybrid drone stays aloft for over four hours

Record-breaking hybrid drone s...
The HYBRiX.20 fuel-electric quadcopter in action
The HYBRiX.20 fuel-electric quadcopter in action
View 2 Images
The HYBRiX.20 fuel-electric quadcopter with its box
1/2
The HYBRiX.20 fuel-electric quadcopter with its box
The HYBRiX.20 fuel-electric quadcopter in action
2/2
The HYBRiX.20 fuel-electric quadcopter in action

Drone technology is getting better all the time, and one area folks are putting a lot of energy into is boosting the amount of time the things can stay in the air. Drone manufacturer Quaternium is claiming a new milestone in this field, after flying its HYBRiX.20 fuel-electric quadcopter for four hours and forty minutes in what it describes as a world record flight for a self-powered multicopter.

Most multicopter drones you can buy off the shelf boast flight times of 25 to 30 minutes, though we have seen custom-built multicopters fly for far longer. Last year, for example, a commercial drone operator used a bespoke quadcopter to cross the English channel in a 72-minute jaunt, while others such as dronemaker Skyfront have previously claimed endurance records well in excess of four hours.

For what it's worth, Guinness World Records lists the longest drone flight as two hours, six minutes and seven seconds, so while drones may have flown for longer, no Guinness officials were on hand to document the event. As a way of proving the legitimacy of its achievement, Skyfront produced a time-lapse video to show its drone in action and that is the same approach Quaternium has taken with its latest record-setting attempt.

The video shows the company's Hybrix.20 multicopter hovering in the air with a clock in the foreground for a period of four hours and forty minutes. Also like the drone used in Skyfront's video, and as the name maybe suggests, the Hybrix.20 multicopter is a hybrid gasoline-electric drone, using the considerable range and endurance this configuration offers for applications like surveillance, mapping, crop-monitoring and inspections.

So these attempts might be good for generating some publicity, but they are also a great way of pushing the power and fuel efficiency limits of these machines. If you're a farmer using them regularly to keep track of crop health, for example, an extra hour in the air means less refueling/recharging, less manual labor and a more cost-effective operation overall.

This particular flight took place on Christmas Eve in Valencia, Spain. You can see it play out in the video below.

Source: Quaternium

WORLD RECORD OF DRONE ENDURANCE! HYBRiX multicopter: 4 hours 40 min flight - by Quaternium

4 comments
chase
I have to wonder how noisy these hybrids are and... how dirty they get with a gas motor. Hoping it's a 4 stroke not a two stroke smoker. Look at anything, bicycle, scooter, small boat engine, heck a 2 stroke weed whacker even. Those things are loud, and covered in oil in short order. Not something I'd like to pack away after a 4 hour run. Then you have a portability issue. Empty fuel filled fuel tank with a lipo... Not sure the airlines will feel about it. Especially since they hate my shampoo bottle. As well, If you were ever worried about a lipo catching fire mid flight, let's add a half tank of gas to the mix. Congrats on the feat but I don't know how this will fly as far as GQ public is concerned.
michael_dowling
Yes,I draw the line at gas powered drones. Stick with lipo.
ljaques
Given that GPS precision is superb, and a return trip to re-battery the drone would take maybe 2 minutes total, why is this such a big thing? Chase's noise issue (but I guess any drone is just annoyingly loud) and the messy/hot/oily returned drone, I ask again, why is this such a big thing? I started to watch the video but quickly realized that it was a recording of the 4 hour clock time, not a spec list for Quaternium. Color me Meh over this whole thing.
Park A.
More cost effective? I would counter with maintenance costs: How much does it cost to keep this thing in the air (safely), operating over a three-year life cycle, flying 16 hours per week for 50 weeks per year? Then we'll compare that to lithium, a solid oxide fuel cell and LP hybrid, or even a tethered electrical power source to that same life cycle endurance - there was no mention of increased range paired with articles advertised endurance, (my assumption here is line of sight). How much does this thing weigh? Is there an all electric version? If so, what are the specs on that configuration? As a rule, fixed-pitch multirotors are incredibly inefficient. I might be surprised with the findings of a comparison; however, I don't believe liquid fuel is the future of this technology. More efficient solar conversion, hyper-dense energy-packed battery chemistry, high-output onboard energy producing mini power plants; alternative power sources is what will propel us into the future with practical applications. I wish these researchers would strive for real solutions within the industry, and stop focusing on making headlines. Give us a benchmark in technology that we can use. An improvement that shifts the way we collectively view these tools - the headlines will follow. Focus on safety, simplicity, and privacy. We don't need more of the same (endurance, range, payload, smaller form factor). We need a marked improvement to assist us in becoming accepted as a reliable piece of kit that actually mitigates risk; we need a way to get out from under the cumbersome legislation.