Tethered UAV “Unleashes” Perpetual Drone Flight Time
The major problem with using drones for aerial surveillance, mapping, or inspection is the limited battery life. Landing every 20-30 minutes to swap out batteries is a major pain.
Though the Tesla drone under development will have up to 60 minute flight time, a Boston-based upstart has a better solution.
CyPhy works has developed an ultralight microfilament tether to allow indefinite flight time, and data transfer. They’ve coupled it with their newest drone system, called PARC (Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications).
“It’s basically a robot with unlimited time-of-flight. You send it up and it stays there,” said Cyphy Works founder Helen Greiner at the recent EmTech 2015 conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The real secret is the ultra-light tethering cable developed by Cyphy. Their tether is more like fishing line than a wire. It allows a 500 ft. flight altitude, and has an automatically controlled spooled real on the ground unit, to keep constant tension.
Key benefits of the PARC tethered UAV system are:
- EXTREME ENDURANCE Ground power enables flight durations measured in days, not minutes.
- SECURE COMMUNICATIONS Direct connection with GCS can’t be intercepted, jammed, or spoofed
- HIGH DEFINITION VIDEO High quality, full frame rate, unbroken, hi-def video
- NIGHT VISION Combined EO/IR means no need to swap payloads when lighting changes
- GYRO STABILIZED CAMERA GIMBAL Clear video starts with stable video
- 500 FEET ALTITUDE See and communicate farther
- FLEXIBLE POWER INPUT Connect to generator, grid, vehicle, or other power source.
- AUTONOMOUS OPERATION Launch, hover, and land automatically
- COMPUTATIONAL POWER Vehicle has real-time access to GCS computer
Cyphy is also exploring the drone delivery market, following Google and Amazon. Their most recent funding round of $22 million came from UPS and other venture capital firms. They also have hobby drone models under development.
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