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One of the limitations for commercial drone operations has been endurance limited by power supplies. Quaternium has partnered with electronic fuel injector manufacturer Löweheiser to set a flight record with its HYBRiX fuel-electric multi-rotor drone.
Valencia, Spain-based Quaternium claimed that it has been a pioneer in the drone industry since 2008. The company said it developed the first hybrid fuel-electric unmanned aerial system (UAS) in the world in 2014.
Ribarroja, Spain-based Löweheiser said it has designed the smallest electronic fuel-injection (EFI) system in the market, specifically optimized for unmanned aircraft. The European Commission is supporting the HYBRiX project through its Horizon 2020 program, which is intended to foster scientific and industrial innovation.
Quaternium uses fuel injection for flight duration
The “unprecedented” flight started at 8:20 a.m. local time with an experimental version of the HYBRiX drone with a full tank of 16 liters (4.2 gal.) of fuel, said Quaternium. The UAS landed at 6:34 p.m. after 10 hours and 14 minutes in the air.
Quaternium said it made several enhancements to HYBRiX to achieve this milestone, but it said Löweheiser’s EFI was crucial. The technology increased the drone’s flight time and reliability because it could easily adapt to any variation in weather conditions, said the companies.
The small size of Löweheiser EFI system enabled it to be easily integrated into the UAS without losing any performance, said Quaternium. The HYBRiX system, which was built specifically to attain the record flight time, kept its weight is almost the same as the carburetor version.
During the 10-hour mission, Lowehiser’s team monitored the engine parameters at all times, providing HYBRiX operators essential data to optimize the engine performance, making this new world record possible.
“We are convinced that the cooperation with Löweheiser is a unique opportunity to develop new capabilities and meet our ambitious goals for 2021,” stated Alicia Fuentes, CEO at Quaternium. “This collaboration is going great, and we are confident that it is going to be really beneficial for both sides.”
Multi-copters are the preferred aerial platform for aerial applications, but their limited endurance makes them useless for many commercial missions, said Quaternium. The HYBRiX technology overcomes this limitation, making it ideal for aerial missions such as surveillance or first response, according to the company.
Quaternium said its HYBRiX long-endurance UAS, including Löweheiser’s EFI, is now available worldwide.