Magazine

Next-Gen Drones: The Sky’s No Limit

Csaba Singer of Hybrid-Airplane Technologies

Csaba Singer hates the word “drone,” which may seem surprising because that’s what his small company makes – except that his next-gen drones look like a giant, inflatable frisbee with two, tiny, diametrically opposed wings.

Based in Baden-Baden, Germany, Hybrid-Airplane Technologies was founded to produce a completely different kind of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV): one that can stay airborne for days or weeks on end and even fly indoors, automatically following preprogrammed routes or be piloted over the Internet.
H-Aero, as Singer calls his brainchild, is a combination of airplane, helicopter, and balloon. It can take off and land horizontally, fly from A to B, or hover indefinitely, recharging its batteries on the fly via built-in solar panels. Consisting of a helium-filled lenticular hull, the H-Aero is as energy efficient as a Zeppelin or a balloon but is as agile as multicopters or airplanes, he claims.

Surveillance flights can now be done with unmanned systems.
Csaba Singer, Founder, Hybrid-Airplane Technologies
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In an interview with Droneii, an online trade magazine, Singer expounded the virtues of his company’s invention. “Compared to conventional drones, H-Aero is far superior in terms of flight endurance, safety, payload, and capabilities. This proves [useful] especially in the field of agriculture and forestry. Surveillance flights which were previously only possible with manned systems (because of flight endurance or safety reasons), can now be executed with the H-Aero as the first unmanned system. For the client, this means a cost saving of around 20 times and a low-emission and friendlier option due to noise protection and no CO2 emissions.”
Applications for H-Aero are many, he believes. The flying frisbee can be put to use inspecting bridges or tunnels, keeping track of inventory in warehouses, or keeping an eye from above on crops or forests. Thanks to its extended operating span, it could even serve as a hotspot for local wireless networks where antenna towers are impractical or impossible to build. With a payload of 10 kilograms, it can even be used for transporting small cargoes, for instance medicines to remote locations.

Next-Gen Drones - H-Aeros - source ©: Hybrid-Airplane Technologies

Next-Gen Drones: Is it a blimp, is it a plane? H-Aeros is as energy efficient as a Zeppelin but as agile as a helicopter, making it far superior to conventional drones in terms of safety, payload, and endurance. With ultrabright light, we will be able to see the internal structure of the papyri.

The best thing, Singer believes, is that his company’s first product isn’t subject to many of the laws and restrictions that apply to conventional drones. “We just received a positive safety certificate as ‘harmless’ even over public gatherings,” he claims, adding that if a malfunction occurs, the craft simply glides to the ground like a parachute. “Besides, our starting mass is below the limit that requires a human operator and instead of using a camera, which would be a problem for most missions, we use sensors to measure things like pollution or heat spots,” he says.
Hybrid-Airplane Technologies already has plans for a much larger version of H-Aero that can carry passengers. “Maybe we can become the Uber of air taxis,” he hopes. A low orbit version could be produced to expand the use of dirigible UAVs to the edge of outer space itself. In fact, Singer is talking to NASA about using the H-Aero on a future Mars mission. Obviously, when it comes to bright ideas, for this young man not even the sky’s the limit.


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