Drones

Yeair! hybrid gasoline/electric quadcopter boasts impressive numbers

Yeair! hybrid gasoline/electri...
The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter boasts impressive performance figures by sporting twin motors on each rotor
The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter boasts impressive performance figures by sporting twin motors on each rotor
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Yeair!'s Persocopter personal flight concept
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Yeair!'s Persocopter personal flight concept
Yeair!'s Persocopter personal flight concept
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Yeair!'s Persocopter personal flight concept
Yeair!'s Persocopter personal flight concept
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Yeair!'s Persocopter personal flight concept
Yeair!'s Persocopter personal flight concept
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Yeair!'s Persocopter personal flight concept
The Yeair! quadcopter's 5 kg payload puts it up with DJI's Spreading Wings
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The Yeair! quadcopter's 5 kg payload puts it up with DJI's Spreading Wings
The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter features grill-protected rotors
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The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter features grill-protected rotors
Each of the Yeair! hybrid quadcopter's rotors has its own 10cc two-stroke engine and an electric motor
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Each of the Yeair! hybrid quadcopter's rotors has its own 10cc two-stroke engine and an electric motor
The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter boasts impressive performance figures by sporting twin motors on each rotor
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The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter boasts impressive performance figures by sporting twin motors on each rotor
The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter – autonomous flight concept art
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The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter – autonomous flight concept art
The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter promise to extend performance using twin motors
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The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter promise to extend performance using twin motors
The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter - grill protected rotors
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The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter - grill protected rotors
The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter isn't a bad looker in white
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The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter isn't a bad looker in white
The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter launched yesterday on Kickstarter
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The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter launched yesterday on Kickstarter
The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter - vision app concept art
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The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter - vision app concept art

One hour of flight time, a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph), a payload of 5 kg (11 lb) – these are big figures for a drone, and figures that are basically out of reach using today's LiPo battery technology. But German startup Yeair! believes it's possible using a hybrid system in which each rotor is driven by two motors – an electric, and a two-stroke 10cc gasoline engine. And the Yeair! team has its sights set on something even more impressive down the track – personal flight in a two-seater hybrid octocopter. The quadcopter of the future, according to German startup Yeair!, will eclipse the performance of current quads by using the fuel of the future… Gasoline. Wait, what?

Quadcopters certainly appear to be limited by their battery capacities at the moment. Twenty minutes is a pretty decent flying time for most consumer level drones, and top speeds around 60 km/h (37 mph) are the best you'll get out of something like the Phantom series quads. But the team of designers at Yeair! is hoping to bring the power-to-weight advantages of internal combustion engines to the world of quadcopters with a Kickstarter campaign launched yesterday.

Each of the Yeair! hybrid quadcopter's rotors has its own 10cc two-stroke engine and an electric motor
Each of the Yeair! hybrid quadcopter's rotors has its own 10cc two-stroke engine and an electric motor

The Yeair! quad is a fairly large design, measuring just under 900 x 750 mm (35.4 x 29.5 in) and standing over half a meter (1.6 ft) tall on its auto-folding landing gear. Each of its four grill-protected rotors is powered by a separate 1.6 kW, 10cc two-stroke engine, with each of these engines assisted by a 600-watt electric motor.

Gasoline engines are great for delivering consistent power, but they're not nearly as quick or responsive as electric motors, and that's a must for stable quadcopter flight. So the gasoline motors do the bulk of the heavy lifting, but the electrics kick in to assist when quick changes in rpm are required.

The Yeair! quad has an onboard 1.5 liter fuel tank and a small 1,250 mAh battery, which generally won't need recharging as it's charged during normal flight by the two-stroke engines. The electric motors also act as inbuilt starter motors for the gas engines.

The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter isn't a bad looker in white
The Yeair! hybrid quadcopter isn't a bad looker in white

Using this hybrid combination, Yeair! claims to be able to deliver some pretty sweet numbers. Up to an hour in the air on a tank of two-stroke fuel, with a range of up to 55 km (34 mi) or a top speed around 100 kmh (62mph). It should be able to carry a payload of around 5 kg (11 lb), which would handle some pretty impressive camera gear.

The team claims the quad is also powerful enough to handle strong winds, and that its dual motor system provides a redundancy option that'll let you bring your Yeair! down to earth safely in the event of an engine malfunction. Mind you, since both motors operate off the same shaft, you're going to be in trouble if the two-stroke's piston seizes.

Early bird Kickstarter pricing starts at €1,399 (US$1,525) and if the campaign manages to get off the ground, Yeair! says it will ship anywhere in the world. It certainly looks like a fairly chunky piece of kit.

Once its small quadcopter business is up and running, though, the Yeair! team has a bigger goal in mind – personal flight. Multicopters seem to offer just about the best solution around for a Jetsons-style flying car; they're stable, easy to fly, reasonably reliable, and becoming mature as a technology. With enough energy storage on board, there's no reason why they couldn't carry people about.

Yeair!'s Persocopter personal flight concept
Yeair!'s Persocopter personal flight concept

Yeair! has put together some early sketches of its "Persocopter", a winged octocopter big enough to seat two people. We won't be holding our breath for that one, but it's still a very nifty thought!

Source: Yeair!

9 comments
Drew31186
Seeing the obvious advantages to both lipos and nitro, I'm so happy to see someone put this hybrid concept to market. The motor/engine would also be VERY helpful in the rc boat field, rc planes and possibly surface applications. Anyway, I would love to see this get funded; in addition, I would like to see the hybrid power system sold as a stand alone unit.
owlpic
There are many problems they will discover when they build this, for example: 1) Converting gasoline to electric, produces major loses at each step: gasoline to generator, generator to battery, battery to electric motor. 2) The propeller configuration is made to screw it's way through air like an airplane. It will NOT provide an effective hovering machine. 3) The structural design is not appropriate for this application 4) Two-stoke motor is not the most efficient. (The photo shows individual toy engines for each blade) Imagination is great until it is tested with knowledge.
Booleanboy
Interesting use of hybrid tech with direct drive and electric power on each rotor but this approach is vulnerable to the risk of failure at each (complex) engine assembly. I suppose the The Octocopter concept would be less at risk from the loss of a single power plant. I'd be interested to learn of their reasons for choosing this approach over a single generator powering all rotors.
mike65401
I'm surprised they didn't put a dual engine counter rotating prop system in the middle that would provide about 80% of the lift, and then have the four electric motor/props provide the rest of the lift and control functions. And maybe have the gas engines power a charging system for the electric motors. I've been looking at a system like this, but with the two electric central motors just having an on/off switch. That way you don't have to run as much current through efficiency robbing speed controllers.
michael_dowling
owlpic sort of beat me to it,but I was going to say two-cycles are inherently dirty engines,hardly a benefit in this day and age,when everybody is trying their utmost to minimize pollution,both chemical and noise. The only hope I can see for it is if it was fueled by some sort of plant derived bio-gasoline.
Expanded Viewpoint
They could use a free piston engine to generate the electricity directly and not even have a battery at all, unless a quieter operation mode is needed. And the exhaust from an FPE could be piped out to a turbine which is used to spin a prop. Having a propane cylinder that just screws on will make refueling very easy and clean burning too. Randy
Forward Thinker
I always wondered why nobody seemed to be using nitro engines on quadcopters sooner given that they've been around for a while in the RC world.
Jimjam
That 2 seater persocopter is definitely going to need an automatic parachute system in the case of a loss of system power. Otherwise it is going to have to be an over-engineered and super reliable as a helicopter, which I reckon would push up the cost. As with all these electric hybrid VTOL projects I (as a layman) reckon that the Aurora Flight Sciences approach looks best and could be combined with a Liquidpiston (the company's name) inverse wankel engine. http://www.gizmag.com/darpa-x-plane-flight-minature/42867/
phissith
I am glad someone is thinking outside the box and willing to risk it. 30 mins to short for such expensive toy so 1 hour would be much welcome. But I am not going to fund this project until they work out all the kinks.