California startup Realtime Robotics is introducing a portable, relatively heavy-lift drone called Hera that the company says beats rivals as a situational awareness asset for first responders, as well as a munitions delivery device for security and defense forces. As such it also sounds like something likely to find numerous takers in Ukraine just now.
Realtime Robotics (RtRobotics) describes the Hera being easily folded and carried in a backpack – batteries and cameras included. It provides 360-degree views of surveyed terrain while carrying payloads of up to 33 lbs. The Castro Valley-based company claims that weight capacity is 10 times larger than all similar-sized UAVs on the market. By way of example, RtRobotics says that in conflict situations, the craft can carry a munition of up to 30 pounds, versus just three by rivals.
Imagine just how effectively Ukraine troops could put that assembly of tech to use in fighting off invading Russian troops they’re currently punishing largely with repurposed consumer drones or self-made craft.
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Hera provides 360 surveillance using electro-optical/infra-red cameras mounted on the front and rear of the drone, offering full ground and sky views during both day and nighttime flight.
That means that in addition to its evident potentials as a surveillance and bomb-dropping device in combat scenarios, RtRobotic’s UAV can also be of valuable service to rescuers in emergency situations.
“Wherever first responders go, with its backpack portability Hera is there with them ready to serve,” RtRobotics says. “With two EO-IR cameras on both ends, Hera can double the scouting area and find victims twice as fast as any other drones, and at the same time still have enough lift capacity left to deliver any lifesaving/medical kits up to 28 pounds.”
In addition to the full 360 views the drone provides operators, in tethered mode Hera can be loaded with cellular communication equipment for use as an aerial cell tower to deliver video, images, voice, or data to team members on the ground.
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It also features two hidden landing gears that protect up to four total gimbals mounted aboard. It boasts a maximum flight time of 46 minutes when carrying 5.7 lbs., and 55 minutes with no payload. In operational mode, the Hera drone measures in at 39 in. x 43 in. x 22 in., and 22 in. x 13.7 in. x9 in. when folded.
RtRobotics says the craft meets data security requirement by the US government. More generally, the company says its R&D team of 50 people “designs and manufactures its drones in-house including airframes, electronics, payloads, ground control stations, batteries, chargers, control firmware and analytical software.”
The company website does not list a price for the craft, though unverified online rumors suggest it may be nearly $25,000, placing it beyond the reach of Ukraine troops – unless RtRobotics decides to support Kyiv with donated drones.