Flying from sunrise to sunset, CA-based Skyfront set out to prove that their off-the-shelf hybrid Skyfront Perimeter 8 could break the standing record for a multirotor flight.* The Skyfront gas electric hybrid flew 205 miles, achieving a flight of 13 hours and 4 minutes. Captured by the drone's onboard 360 degree cameras (see video below) the flight demonstrated the potential to make industrial applications more efficient, by eliminating the requirement for frequent stops to charge and refuel.
This is the second time that Skyfront has claimed the record. In 2017 the company recorded a flight of 4 hours and 34 minutes with their first hybrid product, the Skyfront Tailwind. In the last four years, Skyfront has perfected thier offering: this latest record-breaking flight was achieved by the lightweight and powerful Skyfront Perimeter 8. Perimeter 8 is "the company's most advanced eight rotor drone, designed to meet and exceed the capabilites of even the most advanced helicopters," says a company press release. "The Skyfront proprietary fuel-injected hybrid gasoline electric powertrain replaces the battery, and extends flight times by a factor of twenty."
Flight endurance is of major importance for the drone industry. Battery-operated drones are limited by flight times sometimes as short as 15 minutes, and the problem of short flight time is exacerbated when drones carry heavy payloads, such as LiDAR equipment. Hydrogen fueled drones are one solution: but can require that companies working in remote areas manufacture their own fuel, which can mean the purchase and transport of additional hardware. Hybrid drones such as the Skyfront gas electric hybrid offer a viable alternative.
Skyfront CEO Troy Mestler says the feat could mean that public safety and enterprise customers will be able to use drones instead of helicopters for many applications. "Outfitted with an auxiliary fuel tank, the Perimeter 8 captured the sun traversing the sky, rising and setting over California's Coastal Ranges," says Mestler. "This flight signals a paradigm shift in aviation for public safety and commercial applications."