Most of the drones we see on the market today are either VTOLs (vertical take-off and landing) with multirotors or fixed-wing aircraft. And while fixed-wing drones can fly further and faster than multicopters or VTOLs, they need runways to take off and land. VTOLs, on the other hand, sport multiple horizontal propellers to take off like a helicopter, then switch to vertical props and wings for flight.
Even though we've had our fair share of VTOLs in almost all shapes and sizes, there's always space for innovation.
A new twin-prop VTOL named Vetal from the Thai firm HG Robotics has been under the spotlight for its unusual stingray-shaped design. The tail-sitter drone, as its name suggests, sits on its rear end during take-off and landing. While in flight, it tips forward in mid-air to move forward. Similar to the design of another tail-sitter drone, WingtraOne, Vetal is designed for agricultural surveying and general surveillance.
Vetal boasts a military-grade carbon fiber shell body with a 4.3-ft (1.3-m) wingspan. Weighing 8.4 lbs (3.8 kg), it has two motors that are powered by a swappable 12-Ah lithium-polymer battery. With one charge, the VTOL is set for a flight time of up to 60 minutes.
The VTOL has a top speed of 56 mph (90 km/h) during forward flight and can reach 34 mph (54 km/h) in cruise mode. What's more, it can fly at altitudes of up to 6,560 ft (2,000 m) and can carry a payload of up to 1.8 lbs (800 g). In addition to its 360-degree front-facing camera that can fully rotate, the VTOL can be modified with different types of cameras, sensors, and other customizable gimbals thanks to its quick-release mechanism.
Even though it resembles the WingtraOne drone, HG Robotics say that Vetal is one of the first VTOL drones that features full onboard 4G/5G capability and sets itself apart. The VTOL is designed for long-range beyond visual line of sight operations and its remote controller works over 4 miles (7 km) in real time. Aside from its remote control, the aircraft can be programmed to follow a predetermined flight path using GPS and GNSS. Thanks to these qualities, the Vetal can also land on moving objects such as trucks, ships, trains.
The drone is currently available for purchase and can be set up easily right out of the box. Vetal just needs its user to unfold its landing gears and put on its battery for a smooth take off.