In the classic poem, Rime of the Ancient Mariner, sailors view the albatross as a harbinger of good luck and smooth sailing. Fast-forward 200 years and we find that drone “sailors” are still looking to the fortunate fowl as a sign of great things to come.
On Monday, California-based UAV firm Applied Aeronautics launched a Kickstarter campaign to develop the Albatross – a 10-foot-wingspan, UAV airframe constructed of carbon fiber and honeycomb composite.
Applied hopes to raise $30,000 to develop the Albatross and has raised $5,000 in a couple of days.
The company’s design team stated that the Albatross concept emerged from their desire to find a fixed-wing airframe that was both rugged and inexpensive:
“If it was affordable, it was made of inferior materials and unable to provide more than just basic missions and payloads. If it was well made, it far exceeded most budgets. We began dreaming up a solution. Our mission was simple: create an airframe that’s affordable, efficient and of superior quality.”
The Albatross’ basic airframe is expected to retail for $650 – add-ons will include batteries, carrying case, gimbals, video links and a tablet ground station. The 9.7-inch tablet will boast an eight-core processor, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB of memory with SIM Card and SD card capability.
The airframe will support Scorpion systems motor, Castle Creations battery-elimination circuit, 3D Robotic Pixhawk controller, 3DR’s telemetry unit and other add-on’s. The airframe is designed for search-and-rescue missions, pipeline inspection, photography/videography, thermal imaging, 3D terrain mapping and live video linking.
Applied Aeronautics says the Albatross will reach speeds up to 90 mph, travel up to 200 miles and fly for more than two hours.
For the company’s research team, spending time examining design possibilities proved to be a core value:
“We tested all ideas and available systems as well as open source projects designed by our community. Ultimately we concluded that the best option was one crafted through a collective effort. To that end, we wanted to offer commercial grade components where they were needed — but not where they weren’t. The end result is a robust, highly capable system that is extremely affordable given its abilities. It’s important to note that we will offer updates as technologies evolve.”
The Albatross is expected to be available sometime this summer.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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