Several industries rely on long-endurance drones for large-scale projects. Conventional battery-powered drones aren’t able to deliver continuous flight time. Therefore, companies are now experimenting with hybrid drones. HAMR is one such hybrid drone that significantly boosts performance.
Developed by the Advanced Aircraft Company, HAMR combines the fuel efficiency of gasoline engines and battery backs to create unique hybrid-electric propulsion. This propulsion method can keep the HAMR drone airborne for over 3.5 hours.
For the hybrid propulsion system, the HAMR drone uses the Pegasus Aeronautics GE35 Generator. The GE35 is a 35cc hybrid generator that is built into a small form factor to extend the range of UAVs. The EFI generator can produce a maximum power of 2,000 Watts.
The HAMR drone uses a 2.8 L (100 oz) gasoline tank to power the engine with the option of adding a second tank. Additionally, the drone is also powered by a 12 cell 3300 mAh battery pack. This enables it to achieve high endurance despite heavy payloads.
While the drone might not break endurance records by its fixed-wing counterparts, it does aim to maximize productivity. The HAMR drone can be deployed in less than 4 minutes and can fly in a light drizzle (IP65 rated). This makes it suitable for high-altitude flights as well.
Payload and Endurance
The HAMR drone is equipped with two payload bays. The first one in the nose of the UAV, the second is at the center of the drone. This allows the drone two carry multiple camera systems to intricately capture every kind of data. The drone’s flexibility allows for mounting any third-party sensors. Everything from LiDAR and multispectral cameras to autopilot hardware can be mounted onto the HAMR drone.
The company has compared the performance of the drone with similar battery-powered competitors. Most battery-powered drones slump at the 45-minute mark. However, the HAMR drone can continue flying for over 2 hours with a single fuel tank and a payload of 2.7 kg (6 lbs). Technically the drone can pull off a 3+ hour endurance but with two fuel tanks and just 900 g (2 lbs) of payload. For specific operations, this might vary. For instance, if you only need multispectral data of a region, the payload will weigh considerably less and the HAMR drone can easily stretch its endurance.
Due to HAMR’s flexibility of payloads and ease of operation, the drone can be used for almost any kind of operation. Its application ranges from surveying, mapping, and inspection to security and package delivery. The hybrid propulsion system enables long-distance BVLOS flights which is ideal for drone delivery. The HAMR drone can also be used in weather data collection as it can ascend up to 7,000 ft and withstand wind speeds of up to 25 kts (46.33 km/h).
The Advanced Aircraft Company was founded by Bill Fredricks and Aaron Frank, NASA aircraft engineer and CEO of Deliver-EZ, respectively. Bill has also developed the NASA Greased Lightning VTOL aircraft. Several unique drones are beginning to make their way into industrial markets. Hydrogen drones such as the Doosan DS30 and the Cies Solar Drone are good examples of utilizing alternative propulsion mediums to improve UAV technology. Innovation like the HAMR drone could aid in the early adoption of drone delivery systems across the world.