Quadcopters offer extreme precision and control in flight, not to mention the ability to take off and land vertically. But compared to the traditional plane design used for most drones, their speed and long range capabilities are limited. So an Arizona-based drone builder called Latitude Engineering hopes to capture the best of both worlds with a quadcopter and drone hybrid that doesn't need a runway but can fly long distance missions.
Dubbed the Hybrid Quadrotor, it looks more or less like your traditional drone, with a gas engine on the back driving a large propeller. But on closer examination you'll discover an additional four blades mounted on top of the craft that allow it to take off and land vertically like a quadcopter. That allows the Hybrid Quadrotor to be launched almost anywhere, not just at air fields or on an aircraft carrier.
Electric-only prototypes of the drone have already been successfully flown, and the final 11kg gas-powered version should be ready for flight-testing in less than 12 months. It's expected to have a price tag of around $US25,000, while a larger and more expensive $US55,000 27kg version will be delivered to the US Navy for its own testing. And then eventually, fingers crossed, we'll be seeing toy versions prepped for the holidays next year for us non-military types. [Latitude Engineering via Popular Mechanics]