Terrafugia launches new drone unit and fixed-wing, hybrid VTOL plane

fixed-wing hybrid VTOL

Next-generation aviation and automotive company Terrafugia Inc. has created a new unit that thrusts it into the heart of uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) activity. Its Commaris brand is wasting no time getting into the game, and has launched its fixed-wing, hybrid vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) plane, The Seeker.

Unveiled earlier this month, The Seeker is designed for automated longer-hauls. The fixed-wing VTOL plane gets over three hours out of onboard batteries, and can fly at top speeds of 60 mph. The craft has a fully composite airframe whose 15-foot wingspan can still be assembled or broken down in the field in under three minutes. Its modular design allows for a variety of payloads of up to 10 lbs.

In addition to getting more flight time from its batteries, The Seeker’s powerful yet relatively quiet electric motors allow it to reduce noise output to only 40 decibels on the ground, and attain quasi- silence at an altitude of 500 feet. The fixed-wing, hybrid VTOL is being initially marketed for businesses involved in security, powerline patrols, and missions in noise-sensitive environments.

Cammaris says The Seeker’s customizable design can facilitate wide-ranging tech add-ons. Those include a 30x optical zoom EO/IR camera for inspections, 120-megapixel high-resolution camera for mapping terrain and 3D modeling, and a six-band multispectral camera designed for precision agriculture analysis. Other optional apps are a LiDAR system, laser methane sensor, and corona discharge sensor.

“We are very excited to launch our new brand, Commaris, and its first product, the SEEKER,” says Kevin Colburn, president of both Terrafugia and Commaris. “This UAV is designed to perform a wide variety of commercial inspection operations in applications such as power, gas, oil, mapping, agriculture, and security. Our team of experienced aviation professionals has created an extremely capable, commercial-grade UAV that, in many situations, will deliver results that typical rotary-wing UAVs or helicopters cannot come close to providing.”

Like other VTOL craft, The Seeker can depart and land from confined areas that forward-launched craft cannot. It can be navigated through its dual-GPS system or ground control’s automated route planning interface. The feature allows fast and simple creation of fully automated missions, manual flights, or switching between either when changing airborne situations require.

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