New Drone Takes Off Like A Helicopter, Flies Like A Plane

The best of both worlds

Runways are inconvenient, and helicopters are inefficient. Between these two statements is the quest for Vertical Takeoff and Landing, or VTOL, flying machines. Hampered for decades by the difficulty of building such an aircraft that can switch from hovering to forward thrust mid-flight without jeopardizing the humans inside, drones have rapidly adapted to the task. Like this one, the V-Bat from Martin UAV, on display at the drone industry’s Xponential conference in New Orleans this week:

Above, it hovers, the blades in its ducted fan lifting it like a broomstick balanced on a finger. Then, mid-air, it turns perpendicular to the ground, flying in a plane-like fashion.

Amazon, which originally planned delivery using a more helicopter-like quadcopter, recently switched to a sturdier VTOL design, shown off in a video ad earlier this year. But details surrounding that aircraft remain pretty tightly under wraps.

As for the V-Bat, Martin UAV, says it can fly for up to 8 hours at 50 mph. It can operate up to 35 miles away from the control station, and carries enough fuel for a 300 miles trip. Additionally, it boasts a maximum speed of 100 mph and, where legally permitted, it can fly as high as 15,000 feet. Martin bills it as a drone for wildlife monitoring, mapping, and, in a military role — surveillance and scouting.

Watch a short segment on it from Shepard Media below:

Kelsey D. Atherton

Kelsey D. Athertonis a defense technology journalist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work on drones, lethal AI, and nuclear weapons has appeared in Slate, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and elsewhere.