AeroVironment’s camera drone launches like a rocket, but flies like an airplane

aerovironment quantix quantixheader
Courtesy AeroVironment, Inc.
With a body like a plane, rotors like a quadcopter, and a launch that may give users the urge to yell out a NASA countdown, the latest camera drone from AeroVironment is an oddball that boasts an impressive 45-minute flight capability.

Earlier this month, AeroVironment, a company that has been providing military-grade solutions for more than 25 years, launched its latest commercial drone, the Quantix. While quadcopters can take off without a “runway,” most are limited to around 20 minutes of flight time before the battery runs out of juice. Drones that look more like an airplane than a helicopter tend to be more efficient thanks to their aerodynamic body style, but they require more space to both take off and land.

The Quantix uses a mix of both — the drone takes off with the nose pointed to the sky while using the quadcopter rotors. Once airborne, however, that nose tips forward and the drone continues to fly, using the wings to increase efficiency.

Unlike most drones, instead of flying with a joystick, the user draws a map on the screen. The program then takes the user through a preflight checklist, and, once ready, the drone takes off and covers that area. The user can stop the drone’s predetermined flight path by telling it to land or return to the takeoff location.

The drone is equipped with both a standard 1-inch camera sensor, as well as a multispectral camera for analytic programs.

Designed for commercial uses including agriculture and surveys, the Quantix is paired with a software that uses algorithms to provide more data than just the imagery from the drone’s built-in cameras, including growth assessments of farm fields, as well as assessments of man-made structures like bridges and railways.

The drone’s hybrid design allows the system to cover 400 acres, or 40 linear miles, on one charge, according to the manufacturer. It can reach speeds of up to 45 miles per hour.

While there’s no word on a price yet, AeroVironment expects the commercial drone to ship in the spring of 2017.

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