Probably one of the most regarded performances of a drone, the flight time is directly related to productivity, the distance that can be covered in a single flight, but also psychological comfort and margin for errors. Because it is easily comparable between different aircraft, we get a lot of inquiries regarding the flight time of the Elios 2. To that question, the short answer is 10 minutes. But, there is a lot more to say about flight time. In this article, we'll cover a few important topics you should know about when considering flight time in your buying decision. And first of all, you'll find below a video (fast-forwarded) that shows you how we measured the flight time of the Elios 2.
Flight time video
The flight pattern used in this video is not entirely representative of a mission. However, it is the only flight pattern that can be reproduced and compared between different quadcopter aircraft. For this reason, we chose to use it to measure the reference flight time of the Elios 2.
How is the flight time influenced?
The flight time is subject to vary based on multiple factors, which can be illustrated by looking at the way the power consumption is distributed between the various sub-system of Elios 2.
Table of the power consumption distribution
|Payload with lights on||6.5%|
|Drone onboard processing and sensors||3.5%|
As we see in the table above, most of the power is used in the propulsion system. As such, it is the most important point to pay attention to during flights. Indeed, peaks of power consumption happen when the drone recover from a collision, when the drone is forcing against an obstacle, or when the drone is moving vertically (especially vertically) or horizontally at full speed. Since the flight time is directly proportional to the power consumption of the drone, you would understand that minimizing power consumption by adopting a smooth piloting attitude and optimizing flight path will be your best allies to maximizing your flight time.
Then comes the lighting system. The darker the place, the more the drone will need to produce light. There is not much you can do about it, but it is good to keep in mind that you can notice some flight time difference depending on the natural light available in the space you are inspecting.
Finally comes the onboard processing and the overall system management. It includes, but is not limited to, motor controllers, RF transmission system, stabilization system, data storage, etc. Here again, there is not much you can do to optimize flight time, but as you can see, this power consumption is nothing in comparison to the one of the propulsion system.
Last but not least, proper care for batteries and changing them regularly is instrumental in maintaining the flight performances of your aircraft.
Can the flight time be further increased?
As you must have understood the Elios 2 is engineered for indoor use and, as such, is hardly comparable to any other aircraft on the market. Its configuration makes it the best of its kind to navigate confined spaces and manage collisions. It is also one of the only drones that can pretty much land anywhere, which may significantly extend the mission time depending on the asset configuration
However, due to its size and the limited amount of space available inside the cage, the Elios 2 has smaller propellers than its outdoor counterparts with a similar weight. The consequence of this is a higher disk loading (thrust/propulsion surface), which requires a higher propeller rotation speed leading to a reduced motor efficiency and a much higher noise level. In other words, the Elios 2 is not optimized for flight performance but collision resilience.
When we engineered Elios 2, we decided first on its size. We then had to find the best compromise between flight time and the ability to sustain and recover from collisions. If you are looking into inspecting confined spaces and want to reach success in your venture, you'll have to consider trading a few minutes of flight time against the peace-of-mind provided by a design field-proven for indoor use.
How can I ensure this is enough for my mission?
Whether our products fit your needs is up to your judgment. In the end, only you know how and where you want to use drones. However, here are a few points to consider when assessing if the flight time of Elios 2 is enough for your mission.
It takes only a few seconds to swap an empty battery for a full one. If you go through proper mission planning, you can easily breakdown your inspection into unitary flight segments, which are covered in less than 10 minutes. Every flight segment will be performed with a full battery, and you will come back to your base station to swap the battery in between flights. These breaks in your flight plan is also an excellent opportunity to review the footage captured during the last flight and ensure you've got all the data you need. When planning for the acquisition of an Elios 2, it is essential to consider the number of batteries you'll need. We recommend 9 batteries for a full day of inspection, provided that you can set up a charging station on the spot.
Confined spaces are usually small. One could argue that a lot of time is lost in getting back and forth from the base station to the spot to inspect, and this is true. However, confined spaces are usually small, so the distance base-station - point-of-interest is rarely discriminatory to deploy our technology, leaving plenty of time to capture the data you need. Keep in mind that if you don't do it with a drone, a living person will have to do it, or it won't be done at all. The choice is yours.
Want to test it for yourself?
Moving on with the acquisition of Elios 2 to perform indoor inspections is a rational decision that often takes to see the technology in action. To that end, our partners around the world and ourselves offer indoor drone trial inspections. We also regularly organize demonstration events, so don't hesitate to subscribe to our newsletter to be notified about the upcoming events.