Next-generation ‘Big Wing’ Predator drone completes 37-hour test flight

predator big wing certifiable b
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) isn’t exactly a household name, but it should be. The aerospace and defense contractor is the manufacturing muscle behind the high-profile Predator drone, which is used by military units around the world.

After successfully deploying the MQ-1 Predator and its updated MQ-9 Reaper (Predator B), the company is working on the Certifiable Predator B, a version that is designed from the ground up to be compatible with European flight regulations. A variant, dubbed the Predator B Big Wing, recently completed a challenging 37-hour long-endurance test flight that brings the experimental drone even closer to European certification.

As it name implies, the Predator B Big Wing has a wingspan that is 13 feet longer than the existing Predator B. This increased wingspan increases the fuel capacity of the drone, allowing it to fly for 42 hours, up from the 27 hours for the Predator B. In a recent test flight, the Big Wing was able to launch independently, climb to altitude, conduct maneuvers, and then land after a 37.5-hour flight. Besides larger wings, the Big Wing also can take off and land on short runways, and boasts de-icing capabilities and support for RF antennas.

This endurance milestone is only the beginning for the Big Wing. The team at GA-ASI plans to increase the drone’s endurance in future test flights. Other planned upgrades include more robust flight control software, improved fatigue and damage tolerance, and better weather durability. These improvements are expected to lead to a European flight certification by 2018. The United Kingdom is going all in with the Certifiable Predator B drone, placing an order for the drone as part of its Protector medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle program. The Royal Air Force will operate more than 20 Predator B drone systems by 2025. They will replace the 10 MQ-9 Reapers currently in service.


See the National Forests like never before in these awe-inspiring drone videos

What's the difference between a National Park and a National Forest? Drones. With no ban on drones in National Forests -- at least, not yet -- filmmakers have a way to capture the immensity of these locations with stunning results.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

This fully autonomous $400 drone folds like a book, follows you like a paparrazzo

Having a drone that could follow you everywhere while taking high-quality images without crashing has been a flight of fantasy. With ZeroZero's Hover 2, not only can you have a fully autonomous 4K selfie drone, you can have it for $400.

Car parts maker ZF is using drones to deliver components to its factories

ZF recently became the first entity in Germany to receive approval to use drones to deliver spare parts, and the company now uses them to deliver parts from its central warehouses to its workshops.
Emerging Tech

In a weighty decision, scientists prepare to redefine the kilogram

Metrologists are meeting at the General Conference on Weights and Measures in Versailles to vote on whether to redefine the kilogram as a constant that can be observed in the natural world.
Emerging Tech

Google’s balloon internet is coming to Kenya in 2019

In order to bring the internet to those who lack it, a company called Loon is launching balloons into the stratosphere. From more than 12 miles up, these balloons beam connectivity over a large area on the ground.
Emerging Tech

Hikers missing on Mount Fuji could soon find a drone buzzing above their heads

Hikers who go missing while climbing Japan's highest mountain could soon find a drone buzzing above their head. A new system using the flying machines has been set up on Mount Fuji for future search-and-rescue missions.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk receives FCC approval to launch over 7,500 satellites into space

Not surprisingly, SpaceX is thinking big with Starlink, its space-based global broadband network. This week, the company received FCC approval to launch 7,518 satellites into a low-Earth orbit for its satellite internet service.

The world’s first 3D-printed titanium wheels are so intricate they look fake

HRE Performance Wheels and GE Additive have teamed up to create the world's first 3D-printed titanium wheels. They are not only impressively durable, but extremely lightweight as well.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.
Emerging Tech

DJI Mavic 2 Pro vs Mavic 2 Zoom: What’s the real difference?

DJI's Mavic 2 series drones are ready to fly -- but which one is right for you? The Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are nearly identical save for their cameras. Here's what you need to know about these powerful new UAVs.
Emerging Tech

This startup will sequence your entire genome for free — but there’s a catch

Want to get your DNA sequenced but don’t want to shell out the hundred bucks or so to do so? A new startup called Nebula Genomics offers you the opportunity to have it done for free.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best tech gear and gadgetry that survived Shark Tank

The television show "Shark Tank" has churned out quite a few strange, interesting, and downright awesome products -- so we rounded up some of the best ones for your perusal. Enjoy!
Emerging Tech

Students who designed transforming smart home will compete in Solar Decathalon

Modular smart homes are all the rage, and now some students from Virginia Tech are putting their money on their FutureHAUS, a modular, solar-powered, transforming smart home they're taking to the Solar Decathlon in Dubai.