Advanced composite manufacturer for the yachting industry Carbonix has developed a lightweight drone that has the potential to revolutionise the surveying industry.
Volanti boasts a flight time of up to two hours with a 2-4kg load running on batteries or up to six hours with a larger load if it’s upgraded to a petrol engine.
It’s made from lightweight carbon composites so only weighs 4kg, despite having a wingspan of 2.74m and a length of almost two metres. Because of its size, it can withstand pretty high winds, despite being so light.
The drone addressed the challenges faced by many surveying companies – needing the space to take off. Carbonix’s customers often need to start viewing the terrain from forest areas or other environments, full of hazards, such as rock faces.
“The challenge is that powering the VTOL pods and getting it up in the air is really energy intensive,” Carbonix’s business manager Cortney Thomson told New Atlas. “But because this airframe without the avionics in it is only 4 kg (8.8 lb), it’s incredibly light, and because we build and layer it all by hand, you can have some components that are very strong, with multiple layers, and others can be very light, with very few layers. Every part is optimised for efficiency.”
The drone is fully autonomous, with the controller mapping out the route beforehand. The ground control system is a laptop, although a remote control can be used if they want to control in manually too.
The Volanti costs an eye-watering AUS$100,000 (£62,000), before companies even opt to add customisations, but the applications are pretty impressive and it does offer up the chance to boost efficiencies of industries surveying and mapping, mining and infrastructure assessment, agriculture and emergency response.
“We’re trying to fit this middle commercial range between consumer and military,” Thomson added. “We don’t want hobby level batteries. We don’t want hobby-level ESCs (Electronic Speed Controllers). We want the good stuff, and that’s where the real gap is. Componentry is either hobby grade, or it’s unique IP for military drones.”