X PlusOne drone hovers steady, but also flies nose-first at 60 mph
Both Google and Belgium's Katholieke Universiteit Leuven are working on drone-based delivery projects that utilize UAVs which take off and land vertically, but that can also tip sideways to transition into fast and efficient fixed-wing flight. If you're thinking that it would be neat to purchase a consumer drone that could do the same thing – combining the hovering capability of a quadcopter with the speed of a "flying wing"-type plane – a new one may soon be available, in the form of the X PlusOne.
When used in "hover" mode, the X PlusOne is able to perform smooth vertical take-offs and landings, plus it can also obtain aerial video from either a built-in miniature camera or an optional gimbal-stabilized GoPro.
Flipping a switch on the radio remote-control unit, however, causes the aircraft to turn onto its side and go into "cruise" mode. It can then fly forward at speeds of up to 100 km/h (62 mph). By contrast, a DJI Phantom quadcopter has a maximum horizontal speed of about 36 km/h (22 mph).
Control algorithms reportedly keep the X PlusOne stable in both hover and cruise, although if things start getting a little out-of-hand in either mode, flipping the remote's auto recovery switch will put the aircraft into an auto-leveled hover.
Flight time is about 10 to 15 minutes per battery charge, depending on use.
So, why would a hobbyist want their quadcopter to also be able to fly like a fixed-wing plane? Well, partly just for fun – it's like having a radio-controlled helicopter and airplane combined in one device. Additionally, however, the aircraft could be used for shooting tracking footage of fast-moving subjects, or for getting exciting high-speed "fly-by" shots.
Its designers are now raising production funds, on Kickstarter. Various packages are available, although a pledge of US$479 is required to get a fully-assembled model with transmitter – assuming all goes according to plan. Potential buyers might also want to check out the somewhat similar Quadshot.
A prototype X PlusOne can be seen in action, in the video below.