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Boston drone maker releases surveillance UAV that can fly forever

Anyone who has flown a hobby drone knows the technology’s biggest weakness — limited flight time due to inferior battery technology. A 10-minute flight time is an all-too-harsh reality, but you can only stuff so much batteries into a drone before you start affecting its flight. A new drone from Boston drone maker CyPhy Works solves this power problem by using a very small filament that is attached to the drone and that serves as a continuous power supply.

The new Parc drone is designed for aerial surveillance and can fly indefinitely using a micro-filament that sends both power and data from a base station to the drone. The drone remains tethered while airborne, which means it can fly for a long time, but not very far from its base. “It’s basically a robot with unlimited time-of-flight,” said CyPhy Works founder Helen Greiner, who spoke recently at the EmTech 2015 conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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The micro-filament tether is thinner than an average headphone cable and serves a secondary purpose — it also can be used to reel in the drone if necessary. The six-rotor drone is capable of autonomous flight and includes a camera with night-vision infrared. CyPhy Works officially launched the Parc this week to the commercial market after it obtained an FAA exemption that allows customers to fly the drone for commercial purposes.

CyPhy Works recently received $22 million in funding and is using this capital to advance its various drone technologies. Beside its Parc surveillance drone, the company also is developing an untethered drone for UAV enthusiasts and a delivery drone with swiveling rotors that allow it take off or land as a drone, and then fly as a plane. Delivery company UPS reportedly is interested in this drone delivery technology and has provided funding to the Boston startup.