While the final target is the creation of solar-powered unmanned air systems and the interim effort is fuel cells, the reality is a smart way of using off-the-shelf batteries.
A new power pack comprised of two separate lithium-ion batteries will allow the Israel Aerospace Industries Panther tiltrotor UAS to stay in the air with a payload for over 6h.
A source said that while one battery is used for the vertical take-off and landing, the other is used for cruising. “The distributed usage allows optimal power [to] be derived from such batteries,” the source says.
The Panther uses an innovative automatic flight control system that controls the transition between hovering take-off to forward flight and vice versa before landing. The source explains that this system also controls the transition from one battery to the other.
The Panther takes off and lands automatically by a simple click of the operator’s console, thus eliminating the need for an external pilot.
The type is powered by three ultra-quiet electrical motors. It has a maximum take-off weight of 65kg (143lb) and can be equipped with different payloads.
The company says until fuel cells can deliver the power needed with a weight that is “reasonable” for small and medium-sized UAS, the “smart” use of existing batteries is the solution.
The batteries will get better, but that has to be accompanied with a smart way of achieving maximum endurance.