As consumer drones are becoming increasingly common, we seem to be seeing more of a certain "value-added" feature – quadcopters that are able to hover as needed, but which can also transition to faster and more efficient fixed-wing flight. Recent examples have included the Skyprowler and the X PlusOne. Now, there's also the Vertex.
The canard-style aircraft features four independently-tilting motors/propellers, steerable wheeled landing gear, and wings that can be removed when using it purely in quadcopter mode – they can also be swapped with longer wings for even more efficient fixed-wing flight.
Users transition between the two flight modes using a switch on the radio remote control, which causes the props to rotate from a vertical to horizontal orientation. According to its designers, the Vertex is capable of flight at any stage within that transition – so in other words, it won't fall out of the sky if you don't switch it over fast enough.
A user-supplied GoPro camera can be mounted on an optional 2-axis gimbal for capturing aerial footage. Although the drone is currently entirely manually-controlled, a semi-autonomous flight system is in the works.
Power is provided by a swappable 5,300-mAh lithium-polymer battery, one charge of which should be good for about 15 minutes of hovering or 35 minutes of fixed-wing flight. The latter can be increased if the longer wings are used.
ComQuest Ventures, which is producing the Vertex, is currently raising production funds on Kickstarter. A ready-to-fly package, complete with remote (US only), can be had for a pledge of US$1,155 – assuming the campaign is successful.
The drone can be seen in flight, in the video below.
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