A diesel-powered drone from Vanilla Aircraft just broke an endurance record! The vehicle flew unmanned for five days, one hour, and 24 minutes and even then, it didn’t ran out of fuel #actionmagic
The 36-ft wingspan VA001 completed a journey of more than 7,000 miles last week. Vanilla Aircraft’s drone took off from NASA Wallops Flight Facility controlled by a pilot before giving up control. In autopilot mode, it orbited at 5,000 feet in a 2-mile circle and eventually made it back autonomously at the starting point.
After completing its goal, engineers noticed that the drone still had three days’ worth of fuel remaining on board and could have stayed longer in the air, if required. After all, the VA001 was built to operate for up to 10 days at altitudes up to 15,000 feet with a dash speed of 75 knots and loiter speeds of around 55 knots.
During this record flight, the aircraft carried multiple payloads: a sensor and radio for the United States Department of Defense, as well as a multispectral imager for NASA. “Previous flights had already validated our performance predictions, but this flight really demonstrated the reliability and ease of operation that a low-cost persistent unmanned aircraft can obtain,” said Test Director Jeremy Novara.
Vanilla Aircraft believes that likely commercial applications for their drone include agricultural mapping, disaster zone imaging, cellular network and internet distribution, and infrastructure monitoring.