A (silent) ion drone for 2024?

A (silent) ion drone for 2024?

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This funny machine has earned the nickname “the flying vacuum cleaner” in some American media. If it is true that its appearance is a bit strange, the drone developed by Undefined Technologies is a small concentrate of technology. It mainly uses “ion wind” to move through the air.

The American company has been talking about its ion-powered drone project for two years. However, the project seems to be moving forward as Undefined Technologies has announced its desire to bring this drone to commercial launch in 2024. Dubbed the “Silent Ventus”, the machine has the peculiarity of not using any nozzle for its maintenance. in the air. In fact, it is its structure as a whole that allows it to move.

The process is as follows: the “grids” of which it is composed are designed to create high voltage electric fields. These can ionize (electrically charge) nitrogen and oxygen molecules in the air and release electrons. A large amount of mostly positively charged nitrogen molecules is then created. These are attracted to the negatively charged electrode. As they accelerate, they hit other air molecules and collide with them in the same direction. This is called the “ion wind”. The resulting thrust is used to propel the drone through the air.

The technology itself is not new. In particular, it has already been used in the space area in various missions. Several Earth projects have also used it on a small scale: in the context of the French project, Orville had a mouse took off in a large, very light floating structure in 2003.

Still, Undefined Technologies claims that its technology, called “Air Tantrum,” produces “ higher thrust levels, up to 150% compared to current ion thruster technologies “. This would be a nice development compared to the first demo video that was released in 2020. This only showed a few seconds quite shaky flight inside, in a very small space.

Increased flight time

In December 2021, the company published a 39 second videoand claimed that he managed to complete the two-and-a-half minute flight. Today, it’s four minutes and thirty seconds of flight that she claims to have achieved, although the new presentation video has been edited to show one minute and 17 seconds of edited images.

The company also claims to achieve a noise level of 75 decibels, roughly the equivalent of a vacuum cleaner. So it’s not really quiet: the drone’s designers have reduced the noise, however, because their first prototype was more like 90 decibels. Undefined Technologies is calling for new investment in a cargo delivery drone product that will fly for 15 minutes and emit less than 70dB by the end of 2023. This flight lasting more than 4 minutes required advances in battery chemistry that can now give us higher energy density. says Undefined’s chief aerospace engineer, Thomas Benda Jr., va Press Release.

That doesn’t stop some media like New Atlas from being skeptical items. “ It remains unclear whether achieving 15 minutes of battery life will require further advances in battery chemistry, or if the company has other tricks up its sleeve. “. There is also the question of cargo, regarding the delivery drone. Finally, when it comes to the noise emitted, it is difficult to know at what distance it was recorded, which can undeniably change the performance. If the company manages to convince investors, these points may be in the near future clarified.

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