Harris Aerial Develops Hybrid Drone Capable of Five-Hour Flight

The Orlando-based drone company just developed a hybrid drone that could have a huge impact on search and rescue, surveillance and monitoring programs.

Harris Aerial

Orlando-based drone company Harris Aerial, a member of the University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program, has developed a hybrid drone powered by gasoline and electricity. Its power sources allow it to fly for several hours at a time. According to Harris Aerial, this carbon fiber composite quadcopter is foldable, durable, and configurable with thermal imaging and hyperspectral cameras. Naturally, this would make it a highly-capable unmanned aerial vehicle for surveillance, monitoring, and inspection industries. 

According to Orlando Business Journal, the hybrid nature of the Carrier H4 Hybrid provides it with a flight time of nearly five hours, and a bit more than two hours when carrying a 10-pound payload. New Atlas reported that the official entry in the Guinness World Records for longest drone flight is listed as a two hour and six-minute flight. Of course, the Hybrix 2.0 broke that record (albeit unofficially) when it reached four hours and 40 minutes of uninterrupted flight last December. 

While Harris Aerial is certainly eager to top that number, the incentive seems to be based more on the functional, humanitarian potential more than winning a popularity contest. In other words, longer flight capabilities equal prolonged public safety potential. “Extended flight is essential in disaster situations where there is limited power and dangerous conditions for our first responders,” said Harris Aerial president Ben Harris. “By using a hybrid drone, they will be able to deliver supplies quicker and save more lives, including their own, without stopping to swap batteries or charge the drone.” 

Let's take a look at the Harris Aerial H4 Hybrid, shall we?

Of course, the potential for a camera-fitted drone capable of operating for hours at a time is enormous. In the aftermath of a natural disaster, deploying a handful of these to cover large affected areas could make search and rescue efforts far more effective. Companies could use a UAV such as this one to monitor pipelines or general equipment too dangerous to approach in person. Newsgathering services could use a drone such as this one to capture lengthy public demonstrations or events. The use-cases seem endless, and we'll surely see drones such as these put into practice sooner rather than later. Stay tuned.