Drone Amplified is working with a former lead Tesla engineer and his company as he seeks to develop a “super drone” capable of carrying a payload of up to 75 pounds and staying airborne for over an hour.
CEO of Parallel Flight Technologies Joshua Resnick is one of the engineers who helped design the Tesla all-electric battery-powered semi-trailer truck.
Parallel Flight Technologies is building a drone with a much longer endurance and a larger payload capacity than those currently being used on wildfires. Most drones can only stay aloft for 20 to 30 minutes and can carry a few pounds of cargo. Parallel Flight Technologies expects their aircraft to be able to transport 75 pounds for one hour, or 50 pounds and stay airborne for 2.5 hours.
Drone Amplified is working to build a larger drone-mounted plastic sphere dispenser (PSD) system for Parallel Flight Technologies’ upsized drones so that they can be used to ignite burnouts or prescribed fires. The recently introduced IGNIS 2 can hold 400 to 450 spheres that ignite 30 to 45 seconds after being released from the drone against IGNIS 1’s payload of 150.
“Wildfire would really be the use case that was the impetus for me to even start on this project,” Mr. Resnick said. “We had a fire not far from our home in Santa Cruz, California in 2017 around the time of the Santa Rosa Fire. After that, I started looking into the different ways that unmanned systems could be used in a wildfire effort.
“We have developed a parallel hybrid drone where the propellers are powered by a combination of gas and electric. The electric motors provide the responsiveness so the aircraft can maneuver, and the gas supplies the duration and the high power to weight ratio.”
In fall of 2018 the company built a proof-of-concept aircraft, and in August 2019 successfully demonstrated heavy lift capability and duration with a new prototype aircraft. In 2020, they expect to be ready for joint exercise missions with several agencies. Mr. Resnick said the Parallel Flight Technologies drones will be American made and will conform to security specifications required by the DOI and Department of Homeland Security.