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New Battery Configuration Allows 2-Hour Flights

New Battery Configuration Allows 2-Hour Flights

California-based startup Impossible Aerospace says that their new battery configuration can allow drones to fly for two hours! The company says it simply rethought the way drones are designed and built and notes that its first drone, which is about the size of a DJI Phantom, can last up to two hours in the air, far longer than the 20- to 40-minute flight times offered by most other consumer or professional solutions.

It’s the kind of advancement that could radically change the businesses and industries that already rely on drones to get things done. And despite coming out of the shadows for the first time this week, the company’s CEO Spencer Gore has already set his sights on a far bigger target: the airline industry.

Impossible’s solution for squeezing more battery life — and, therefore, more flight time — out of a similarly sized package is relatively simple: instead of relying on a separable battery pack that gets snapped on or slotted into the drone, all the individual battery cells are tucked throughout its structure. The battery is not just in the drone; it basically makes up the entire thing. This means more battery cells can be used, but there’s also less non-battery weight to offset, which leads to longer flight times.

An illustration of how Impossible Aerospace lays out the batteries in the US-1 drone.  Image: Impossible Aerospace

The final version Impossible Aerospace arrived at is a quadcopter that looks similar to others on the market, but it has between four to six times the total flight time that’s typically possible. Its performance doesn’t suffer, either. The US-1 tops out at 42 miles per hour and has a range of nearly 50 miles. The company is selling the drone bare for $7,500 or with a thermal camera package made by Flir for $10,000. (The drone fitted with the camera is only rated for about an hour and 10 minutes of flight time, according to Impossible Aerospace’s website.) Gore says he expects the majority of customers to be from the fields of private security, police, fire and rescue, or research.

Updated: September 18, 2018 — 8:03 pm
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2 Comments

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  1. That’s neat and all but not exactly groundbreaking. The extra flight time in absolutely no way justifies the price. The real breakthrough will happen when the batteries themselves can be significantly improved. As an experienced rc pilot myself I can tell you the multi-rotor than can be built and equipped for ten thousand dollars by an experienced hobbyist would blow this thing away because anyway you put a spin on it the lifting capacity of their drone is no better than what’s available for seven hundred dollars at the end of the day. I have a multi-rotor that I equipped myself for around two thousand dollars that can lift over eight pounds which I can assure you out performs theirs by six pounds or so. It may not fly nearly as long but at the end of the day if you don’t have a useable and practical payload capacity then you really just have a “toy” that can fly for a long time and is otherwise utterly useless commercially. This will prove not to be a “breakthrough” but a gimmick in my experienced opinion.

  2. I have serious doubts about this approach. Though it is possible to stuff a lot of batteries into the drone’s “arms”, consider the weight penalty of all those extra battery casings. The cylinders’ total surface area is huge, compared to the surface area used to enclose a single, compact, larger battery. Why not just make long, thin batteries that actually serve as the structural part of each arm, eliminating a huge portion of the cylinders’ surface area and weight? This might get you a lot more than 70 minutes of flight time (with camera).

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