Quadcopter

  • One of the best ways to extend the range of a VTOL aircraft is to add wings for horizontal flight, and Drone Volt's Heliplane brings this kind of thinking to the industrial drone market, offering long flight endurance times, 1.6-kg (3.5-lb) payload capacity and VTOL/hover capabilities.
  • ​Whereas quadcopter drones simply have four rigid propeller-bearing arms, flying insects are able to adjust the angle of their wings according to the situation. Inspired by that fact, scientists have created a drone that can fold its arms while in flight, allowing for better performance.
  • Although quadcopter drones show promise as a means of exploring hazardous environments, they do have one drawback – they're wide, limiting their ability to squeeze through tight spaces. An experimental new drone addresses that problem, by folding into different shapes while in flight.
  • ​A few years back, we heard about Mobile Recon Systems' KittyHawk, a large-ish quadcopter that could carry three GoPro cameras. Well, the Kentucky-based company has now announced the new Dauntless UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), which can lift and transport over 200 lb (90 kg).
  • ​Three years ago we heard about Parrot's Minidrone Hydrofoil, a radio-controlled model boat that uses a detachable aerial drone for propulsion. Well, Horizon Hobby has now taken a similar approach with its Blade Inductrix Switch RTF, which is a quadcopter/hovercraft combo.
  • ​Many battery-powered drones are limited by a relatively short battery life. California's Impossible Aerospace says its upcoming US-1 drone will fly for much, much longer per charge than competitors, and should put electric drones on a par with gas-fueled systems.​
  • ​If you're looking for a quadcopter that can land on the water's surface to shoot underwater video – well, that would be Urban Drones' Splash Drone. Now, the company has joined forces with tech firm SwellPro to create the Spry drone, which can actually make short "flights" beneath the surface.
  • We've heard about "solar-powered" quadcopters before, in which their battery is charged by photovoltaic panels. Now, however, engineering students have built a copter that draws its power directly from onboard solar cells, apparently allowing it to stay airborne as long as the sun is shining.
  • DARPA’s Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program has successfully wound up its Phase 2 flight tests, putting its drones and algorithms to the test in three primary scenarios – all without human assistance or control.
  • Quadcopters are most stable with their four propellers arranged in a square configuration, with one prop at each corner of the square. Such a setup makes it difficult for the aircraft to fit through tight spaces, however. That's where the Quad-Morphing drone comes in.
  • ​Traditional quadcopters can be kind of awkward to transport, with their four propeller arms sticking out to the sides. As a result, we've recently seen a number of folding drones. One of the latest, the LeveTop, takes the form of a cylinder when not in use – plus it has some other useful features.
  • DJI has announced its latest consumer drone, the Mavic Air. Like its predecessor (the Mavic Pro) the Air has a compact design, folding propeller arms, and a 4K/30fps-shooting camera – although it has some new features, too.