Flight time and range have always been at the forefront of the drone developer’s mind. With smaller, domestic UAV starting with a flight time of 5-10 minutes and an average of 20 minutes, the industrial drone user requires something with greater range and longevity. Despite years of innovation and improvement, a standard battery for an industrial drone still averages around 20-40 minutes flight time. The power to weight ratio for industrial drones has long denied extended flight time with heavier payloads.
As the UK’s leading developer of autonomous aerial systems, ISS Aerospace have always pushed the boundaries of UAV flight time and range. In September 2019, we premiered our pioneering modular hydrogen fuel cell UAV platform – Sensus at DSEI 2019 at ExCel London.
Sensus Industrial UAV With Extended Flight Range & Time
Sensus is the first of its kind; an off-the-shelf UAV solution capable of flight times of up to 120 minutes when using a 3 litre AMS cylinder. Sensus weighs just 7kg and is available with a wide range of cylinder and payload options, tailored to the needs of each client.
Ryan Kempley, CEO and Founder of ISS Aerospace explains: “Sensus is a unique proposition, offering a versatile, off-the-shelf platform that can be adapted to meet the requirements of a wide range of surveying applications, in challenging environments across the globe.
We set out to create a sub-7kg UAV that could carry a substantial payload for over an hour – something that could only be achieved by using the latest fuel cell technology. Working together, the Intelligent Energy fuel cell and AMS cylinders enable Sensus to stay in the air for longer and to carry heavier loads, opening up new possibilities across a variety of industries.”
See Sensus in action, carrying out a UAV gas survey:
Extended UAS Flight Time
UAVs with extended flight time are particularly attractive to industrial users such as those in the energy and defence sectors, as well as law enforcement for search and rescue, event and traffic management.
The ability to extend UAV flight time is of particular interest to industrial UAV users where time is a factor in their mission, such as defence reconnaissance and event and crowd management for law enforcement. Extended flight times will also be beneficial tasks in a wide range of industries, including construction, agriculture, forestry, mining, and entertainment.
Extended UAS Flight Range
An extended flight range opens up a wealth of opportunity for industrial drone users, increasing the amount of land or survey subject covered per flight. According to a 2013 report commissioned by the US Air Force, commercial use of UAVs is set to increase dramatically over the next 15 years, the ability to keep UAVs in the air for longer periods of time and with longer ranges will be paramount for industrial users.
Extended flight ranges will be hugely beneficial to users in sectors such as energy sector users for surveying and monitoring tasks for pipelines solar farms, and power stations, which can cover large areas and take a significant amount of time. Less downtime not only saves time but reduces cost significantly, especially at scale.
At present in the UK, drones must not be flown over an altitude of 400ft, and no more than 500m horizontally away from the operator, and always be within VLOS (visual line of sight). BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) for UAVs is a subject of much discussion globally, as within increased flight time and range capability comes increased responsibility and risk.
The potential benefits of BVLOS capability through coupled with extended flight time and range are huge. The ability to carry out large scale surveys, audits and inspections at distance and the significant reduction in lost time stands to save major sectors millions of dollars per year. Sensus is set up for BVLOS flight, allowing drones to work on larger projects and deliver fast, efficient and accurate data.
ISS Aerospace is a full service unmanned aerial vehicle and systems manufacturer. Serving both the civilian and defence markets. We design, manufacture and support Unmanned Air Systems (UAS). We produce cutting edge, bespoke, cost effective solutions as an end to end service as well as operational services.
To find out how ISS Aerospace could help your organisation perform surveys, mapping or inspections requiring extended flight times get in touch.