Hybrid Drone Design Combines Speed, Hover Ability

While the FAA creeps toward releasing regulations for unmanned aerial systems, plenty of entrepreneurs and designers are moving ahead with new products. One new design, the X PlusOne, aims to combine the usual VTOL multi-rotor design with the ability to fly horizontally at high speeds. xCraft, a start-up company, is just wrapping up a successful Kickstarter campaign to launch the hybrid drone. The X PlusOne takes off and lands vertically, but once aloft, it can tip over 90 degrees and fly forward at speeds up to 60 mph. A camera mount is optional. The drone runs about $200 for a kit up to $1,100 for a fully accessorized ready-to-fly version.

The drone's designer, JD Claridge, is an aerospace engineer who formerly worked at Quest Aircraft. "We actually see this technology as applicable to manned flight as well and we have addressed this in the patent," Claridge told AVweb in an email. "For a manned version, we would see the need for a gimbaled passenger compartment/cockpit that allows the occupants to remain upright no matter the orientation of the craft. It may be many years down the road, but a manned and pilotless transitional VTOL aircraft utilizing this technology is definitely a possibility." The Kickstarter campaign has so far raised nearly three times the team's $50,000 goal. Google has been testing a similar design for its Project Wing delivery-drone project.

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