by Michael Willoughby
Impossible Aerospace said its US-1 quadcopter was the first aircraft of its kind to cross the northern Nevada desert without recharging. The drone made repeated 72-minute flights across the Playa on August 6, 2019.
The US-1, which the company dubs the “flying battery”, was unveiled at Interdrone 2018 and the aircraft used for the flight was an unmodified production US-1, carrying with it both a FLIR Duo Pro R camera and HD video transmitter. With and against the prevailing winds, the US-1 flew distances of 29 and 21 miles respectively.
“The US-1 is the first major breakthrough in drone performance since the introduction of the quadcopter,” said Spencer Gore, CEO. “More importantly, is the first battery-electric aircraft to rival the performance of a conventionally powered system.”
While many electric aircraft have flown similar distances, the US-1 differs in that it uses propellers instead of wings to fight gravity, which requires more energy per mile but allows the aircraft to hover in place.
According to the company, the flight was planned to avoid operations over people and protected wilderness areas.
“The ultimate vision of Impossible Aerospace is to build long-range electric aircraft that carry goods and people around the world, emissions free,” said Gore. “But electrification changes literally everything about an aircraft, and many of these changes will take years to prove safe enough for passenger transport. In the meantime, we believe it’s prudent to push the envelope of electric aircraft using unmanned aircraft, and to advance drone regulations by piloting use cases that save lives.”
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