Dragonfly Pictures has created a new class of drone, the hover-in-place tethered drone. Contrary to battery-powered multi-rotor drones that require battery changes every 20 minutes, tethered drones receive their power through an electrical cord connected to a base station. This empowers them to stay aloft for hours, even days. DPI’s tethered multi-rotor drones are designed to track and follow mobile host platforms including ships, boats, trucks and other unmanned surface/ground vehicles.
“Using Vicor power modules we have been able to lower the weight of all the components onboard the drone to increase altitude and airspeed while carrying the required mission payload,” said Joe Pawelczyk, Vice President of Operations at DPI. “Nobody else has the power density of Vicor, so we can achieve top levels of maneuverability, performance and hover control with their components. This enables DPI tethered drones to lift more, fly higher and fly faster. “
They offer several benefits over fixed-wing drones, including vertical takeoff and landing capabilities. There is no runway, launcher, or recovery equipment required. Unlike a blimp, they also offer the ability to achieve persistent, stationary positioning – even during turbulent weather and fast-changing wind speeds.
Tested extensively in real-world operating conditions, their tethered drones are currently being qualified for use by the U.S. Navy in marine/maritime environments for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), communications and video applications.
DPI’s military/industrial-grade Unmanned Multi-rotor Aerial Relay (UMAR) tethered drone is weather proofed for rain, snow, dust and heat, and is optimized specifically for saltwater marine environments.
UMAR drones are especially beneficial in that they can provide up to 400+ hours of non-stop uptime and operations– at up to 500 feet altitude – because of the continuous power flow through the tether.
When deployed as an airborne RF antenna, the UMAR drones can extend ship radio line-of-sight from 8 miles to up to 30 miles.