Drones have long been used for multiple uses, from photography, military, agriculture, delivery to search and rescue, but they’re still held back by relatively short flight times and limited lifting capacities.
Now, an American startup, Parallel Flight Technologies, has developed the Firefly heavy-lift drone that can fly for two hours while carrying 100 lbs (45 kg) of cargo. Thanks to its important load capacity, the considerable maximum duration of its flight, and its versatility, it allows opening new possibilities in its segment.
The Firefly drone weighs just over 54 kg, measures almost a meter in height, and has a 1.6 m wingspan. Its propellers are 1 meter long, and it is equipped with a 60 V and 5,000 mAh battery. It features a Proprietary Parallel Hybrid Electric Multirotor (PHEM) drone technology that gives the platform the capability of lifting 45 kg of payload, not including fuel, for over two hours. According to Parallel Flight Technology, this is ten times longer than any existing similar solution.
In case only up to 40 lb (18 kg) of cargo needs to be carried, this drone can fly for 4 hours, while if the cargo is up to 4.5kg, that flight time increases up to seven hours. It is also fully redundant and can continue flying in the event of an engine failure. The heavy-lift drone can reach the maximum speed is 100 mph (160 km/h). The company says it will eventually be developed to carry as much as 1,000 lbs (453 kg).
Firefly can help firefighters in the field by delivering critical supplies such as tools, fuel, food, and water. Unlike helicopters, the aircraft can navigate zero visibility situations to fly in heavy smoke and at night. The company is also developing a solution for spot fire suppression, enabling the drones to locate and drop water directly onto spot fires when manned aircraft are grounded. In addition, it allows a multitude of uses within sectors such as industrial logistics, being able to make many transport operations safer and more efficient.
The startup ensures that it will have the first units of its Firefly ready to deliver to customers throughout this year. At the moment, the price of this versatile drone has not been made public.