Flying drones have been around for years. Four-propeller models can give the most optimized performance in terms of battery life and usage, while the drones with six rotors can lift heavier loads. But companies like ZM Interactive (ZMI) are offering tools like the xFold Dragon H to go beyond that and are touching the top bar for productivity.
Its new xFold DragonH cargo drone can go either way, however, with extra propeller arms that can be attached or detached as needed. xFold is available in four carbon fiber-bodied models. Each of these units can, in turn, be flown in its basic quadcopter form or with six, eight, or even 12 motor/propeller units. In the latter two configurations, there are two such units at the end of each arm, so the drone doesn’t have eight or twelve arms separate. The arms can be folded back (but remain attached to the aircraft) for transport or storage.
The more rotors a drone has, the heavier loads it can lift. This can be robotic weapons, firefighting equipment, cameras, sensors, or flamethrowers to remove debris from power lines. ZMI offers four xFold models, varying in size but equally modular.
Depending on what the drone is used for, operators can also quickly install optional add-on tools such as robotic arms, fireball droppers, crop sprayers, or 3D mapping sensors. The smallest model, the xFold Spy, has a reported battery life of 35 minutes in its four-propeller configuration, down from a solid 12 minutes in 25-prop mode. It has a purported cargo capacity of 6 lb (2.7 kg) in the former and 15 lb (6.8 kg) in the latter, although the flight time drops to 10 minutes in both cases.
The Travel and Cinema models are already larger, but the largest drone in this lineup is Dragon. The Dragon Hybrid also has a gasoline engine that allows it to stay aloft for longer. With 12 propellers, the Dragon H can lift up to 454 kg (1000 pounds). When these options are not needed, the Dragon H can fly with four rotors.
The xFold drones are rain and dust-proof and can fly in tougher weather conditions than most drones. According to the company, the drones are fully customized, hardware, and software specifically for different applications.
Of course, these are the drones for professionals – amateurs don’t need them. However, this modular design is an important innovation that will benefit many areas, from documentary to research.