New Electric Drone Has Groundbreaking Flight Time

The US-1, from Impossible Aerospace, can fly for 2 hours

A new electric drone from Impossible Aerospace can fly more than four times as long as other battery-powered drones, the company announced today, potentially bringing the world closer to fully electric passenger aircraft.

The new unmanned vehicle, dubbed the US-1, is a quadcopter that is “essentially just one big flying battery,” says Spencer Gore, founder and CEO of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Impossible Aerospace.

“Most drones are designed with the philosophy that once you are done figuring out the payload and propulsion, you add the battery pack,” Gore says. “Instead, from the very beginning, we designed a battery pack that was meant to fly.”

Gore’s research into electric aircraft stemmed largely from his experience working on electric cars at Tesla Motors. “It never made sense to me that it was possible to have a battery-powered car that could drive more than 300 miles but not have a battery-powered drone that could fly more than about 20 minutes,” he says.

The US-1 is about 66 centimeters long and 66 centimeters wide, with an unladen mass of 6.43 kilograms. It can reach speeds of more than 68 kilometers per hour, and can fly more than 75 kilometers before recharging. It is designed and assembled entirely in the United States due to concerns over privacy and national security.

The new drone uses lithium-ion batteries that can reach an 80 percent state of charge in 40 minutes. “The battery pack forms part of the structural frame,” Gore says. “It has no conventional rods or beams that carry loads.”

The US-1 can fly for 2 hours on a single charge, making it on par with gasoline-fueled systems. In comparison, the industry average flight time for battery-powered drones is about 25 minutes, the company says. [READ MORE]