Former NASA Rocket Scientist Designs a Drone: and it Looks Totally Different than a Conventional MultiRotor

Advance Aircraft Company's gasoline-electric hybrid multirotor for endurance drone operations stays aloft up to eight times longer than conventional multirotors.

A fledgling drone manufacturing company, led by a former NASA aeronautical engineer, recently announced the launch of its first commercial product, a multirotor unmanned aircraft whose gasoline-electric hybrid engine allows it to stay aloft up to eight times longer than conventional multirotor drones.

On August 4, Advance Aircraft Company (AAC), based Hampton, Virginia, unveiled its Hybrid Advanced Multirotor (HAMR) unmanned aircraft system. Key features of the drone are its high-performance gas-electric hybrid propulsion system and aerodynamic airframe design, which enable long-endurance drone operations, giving AAC's customers a significant competitive advantage by doubling the productivity of their drone pilots, said the company's founder and CEO Bill Fredericks.

"Our customers generate revenue by the acre and they pay their pilots by the hour, so productivity is important to them," Fredericks said in an interview.

The HAMR hybrid propulsion system incorporates an electronic fuel-injected and computer-controlled 35cc single-piston engine. This configuration drives an integrated 2,000-W generator that powers six independent, brushless DC electric motors and a backup battery. The aircraft's architecture allows it to remain airborne for up to 3.5 hours at a time, six to eight times longer than a conventional battery-powered multirotor aircraft.

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