Battery life has always been an issue with drone flight times. Now hybrids are changing that.
Most battery-electric multicopter drones typically can’t fly for longer than about 30 minutes. But now, with their hybrid counterparts, one recently broke its own endurance record by flying over a staggering 10 hours.
Made by Spanish startup Quaternium, the HYBRiX 2.1 quadcopter features a gasoline/battery-electric hybrid drive system that reportedly gives it a flight time of up to four hours per fill/charge in its stock form.
Back in 2017, the 2.0 model set a world record by remaining aloft for precisely four hours and 40 minutes. This February, an experimental version of the 2.1 model surpassed that figure, going for eight hours and 10 minutes. Now it’s broken the record again, by hovering in place for a reported 10 hours and 14 minutes.
Several enhancements made this possible, with the most notable being an oversized 16-liter (4.2-US gal) fuel tank slung underneath, and the addition of a fuel-injection system to the drone’s 2-stroke engine. Made by Spanish company Löweheiser, the latter system is reportedly small enough that its inclusion resulted in virtually no weight or performance penalties.
In its off-the-shelf form, the HYBRiX 2.1 weighs 13 kg (29 lb), can carry up to 10 kg (22 lb) of cargo or accessories, and has a cruising speed of 50 km/h (31 mph) with a top end of 80 km/h (50 mph).