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Drones have made enormous progress in recent years. Computer vision technology has been steadily improving; obstacles can be detected and avoided; and autonomous flight systems have lowered the barrier to entry to anyone with a few hundred dollars to spend.

All of this has allowed aerial drones and their payloads – ranging from optical cameras to lidar sensors and thermal imaging systems – to begin providing solutions in challenging environments and at scale.

But despite the many advances in electric drone technology, the laws of physics remain a problem when it comes to keeping platforms airborne. The heavier a drone is, the more energy it needs to stay aloft, which itself creates a bigger payload: the battery.

As a result, manufacturers seeking to build manageable platforms that balance usability with size and power have hit a plateau of sorts, especially with rotary-wing craft. The invaluable ability to take off and land vertically comes with a significant energy cost.

Some multi-rotor electric drones can only stay in the air for around half an hour before a new battery/recharging is needed. For beyond visual line or sight (BVLOS) operations, that’s a massive challenge.

Which is where Impossible Aerospace enters the picture. The California startup has announced its exit from stealth mode, a $9.4 million funding round, and a ready-to-go product: the US-1.

This electric drone has a flight time of up to two hours, beyond most of the solutions on the market – aside from hybrid models that rely partly on gasoline.

Instead of designing a drone able to fly while carrying a battery, the Impossible Aerospace team has effectively developed a battery that can fly – in their words, a “battery-first approach”.

And it is American designed and manufactured technology. To read more, click here.



Category: Science