Chinese aircraft manufacturer Yuneec has taken aim at the industrial and commercial drone markets with a new hexacopter based on its consumer-grade Typhoon H aerial platform. The H520 features new mission planning software and a range of upgraded cameras, including one with a 1-inch Sony Exmor sensor.

The H520 airframe itself doesn't appear to differ greatly from the Typhoon H, although it weighs a little less at 1,633 g (57.6 oz) and offers a slightly more efficient battery platform that gives you up to 28 minutes flight time instead of 25. It's the same exterior design, with fold-away carbon propeller arms for easy transport and retractable landing gear to give its camera payload an unimpeded view in 360 degrees. You're unlikely to confuse the two, though, as it's Hazard Orange for high visibility.

We're currently testing the Typhoon H, and in advance of the full review, I can tell you its reasonably substantial size and weight certainly has advantages in terms of stability when you're flying in windy conditions. And the six-prop design offers a degree of redundancy; it can limp home on five of its six props if one goes down.

Targeted at high-end industrial and commercial applications, such as construction, asset inspection, search and rescue and video production, the main difference between the Typhoon and the H520 are its upgraded camera payload options and new flight planning and execution software available through a tweaked version of the enormous ST16 control station.

In terms of cameras, the H520 will launch with a new E90 wide-angle camera using a 1-inch Sony Exmor sensor and f/2.8 aperture. It should be a significant step up from the Typhoon H in terms of resolution, clarity, distortion and color, and it offers a number of frame rate options up to 120 fps, thanks to an improved H2 image processing chip. The picture looks terrific.

Coming soon will be a new CGO-ET thermal imaging camera, with low light capabilities some 20 times greater than the human eye can manage, as well as the E50 camera, which will be a medium focal length, smaller sensor camera that should be a better option for close inspection of assets.

The giant ST16S controller doesn't appear to vary physically from the Typhoon's ST16, but will include new software capabilities, including automated flight mission planning that the Typhoon can't do as yet. Range on the controller is the same at roughly 1 mile (1.6 km), and vision is transmitted back to the built-in screen at 720p.

In addition, Yuneec has partnered with Pix4D to offer a software development kit that could let developers build their own 3D imaging or volumetric scanning tools.

Pricing will range from US$1,999 to US$4,699, depending on camera options.

More information: Yuneec

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