Drones are all the hype these days: cool, affordable toys that can race through the air and take the most impressive selfies. But in the professional world they are wanted as well: shooting footage for cinematic movies, delivering packages and perhaps even getting people to their workplace in the near future!
In the consumer world the buzzing noise they make is not a problem. But when you want to hover above hundreds of visitors at a trade fair, it’s not really a selling point. Neither would one appreciate it when it came falling down or would need battery love every 20 minutes.
Hybrid-Airplane Technologies GmbH combined the silent hovering of a blimp with the maneuverability of modern day drones: the, h-aero©: features a 2 m diameter, lightweight sphere filled with helium to carry the load and small propellers on the sides to steer in all possible directions.
But they are thinking big. Very big. A 20m-wide floating airship, ready to carry passengers to their destination in a hyper efficient way: as the props don’t need to help keeping the airship afloat, they only need to overcome aerodynamic drag.
And that drag is exceptionally low: sphere-like objects feature a pronounced drop in aerodynamic drag when the combination of viscosity, size & velocity (called the Reynolds number) is right. The image to the right (source: NASA), showing aerodynamic drag of a sphere in function of this Reynolds number, illustrates this.
The 20-meter-span people carrying h-aero® concept hits that spot, when it travels at 100 km/h. Of course, real-life conditions will be less ideal than NASA’s wind tunnel and neither is it a perfect sphere, but they managed to get impressively close: our AirShaper simulations have shown they need just the power of a small city car to keep this airship moving! Perhaps even more important than power usage may be the reduction in traffic jams on the ground.
We can’t wait to get to work in this new h(a)ero of the skies. Of all the drone projects we’ve done so far, this has to be one of the coolest! For other project cases, please visit Cases Page .
Both companies, Airshaper and Hybrid-Airplane Technologies, are members of the World Alliance of Efficient Solutions brought into life by the Solar Impulse Foundation and the 1000 Solutions initiative. In this Alliance we work together and look for innovative solutions to tackle today’s environmental challenges.