Ingenious winged design lets this hybrid drone fly up to 100 km/h

Drones come in a wide variety of different shapes and sizes these days, but generally speaking, most of them still fall within one of two categories. There are those of the multi-rotor variety (quadcopters, hexacopters, octocopters, etc), and those of the winged variety.

Both categories have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Multi-rotor aircraft are typically more stable and easy to fly, but also much slower than wing drones that focus on forward acceleration. Conversely, winged drones can fly faster and further than their hovering counterparts, but are harder to pilot, since they can’t perform vertical takeoffs and landings.

The X PlusOne offers the best of both worlds. Designed by aerospace engineer JD Claridge and freshly launched on Kickstarter, this drone blurs the line between winged and multi-rotor aircraft. Thanks to an ingenious form factor, the X PlusOne is able to take off, hover, and land like a traditional quadcopter, and also accelerate forward like a wing drone.

The key to this ability is the craft’s innovative design. In place of the usual crossbars that hold up a drone’s four rotors, the X PlusOne uses an upward-facing wing. When in hover mode, this wing doesn’t do much of anything, but if the drone tilts upward 90 degrees and kicks up the speed a bit, the wing’s shape can provide enough lift to keep the craft airborne. Once it’s in this position, with all four rotors providing forward thrust, the X PlusOne can achieve speeds of up to 62 miles per hour (100 km) — nearly double what traditional multi-rotor drones are capable of.

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It’s also packed to the gills with additional tech that presumably makes the craft easier to fly. Built-in stabilization algorithms keep the drone rock-steady no matter how windy it might get, and there’s even an auto-hover function that’ll take over and level out if you ever get into trouble. To keep your GoPro steady and give you those drool-worthy uber-smooth aerial shots, X PlusOne is also equipped with a 2-axis gimbal stabilizer mount.

There are almost more features than we’ve got room to list in this article, so we’ll let you dig through the rest on the the X PlusOne’s Kickstarter page. Launched just this week, the campaign is seeking $50K to finalize the drone’s design and get it ready for production. Early bird backers can lock one down for about $480, whereas those who are late to the party will need to shell out $600.

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