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.
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