New versions of Autel’s unique, tilt-rotor drone, the Dragonfish, are finally available in the U.S.
The Dragonfish is Autel’s enterprise-minded drone, designed to be highly durable and capable of long flight times over long ranges. The drones are capable of both VTOL multi-rotor and fast winged flight, allowing for the best of both worlds in the drone industry: one where drones can take off and land in a tight space (no need for a runway), but that they can quickly morph into an airplane design to fly for longer periods of time.
The drones are designed to carry a range of payloads including standard high-resolution cameras, 50x optical zoom cameras, 12 megapixel wide-angle cameras, 1280×1024 high-resolution infra-red cameras, and laser rangefinders. That all makes the Dragonfish ideal for operations including imaging, surveillance and mapping. The Dragonfish os being used in fields including police law enforcement, forest fire prevention, electric power inspection, traffic law enforcement, coastal defense and smuggling, agricultural monitoring, and more.
And now, Autel has added for even more variability, launching the Dragonfish Pro and Dragonfish Lite versions of the drone to provide more price options and capabilities for drone pilots. The former is pricier, but would be suitable for long-endurance heavy-duty jobs. The latter is compact and lightweight, which could be appealing for drone operators who need to be more nimble.
Here are among the highlights of the Autel Dragonfish drones:
- Tilt-rotor design for VTOL and winged flight
- Flight time up to 180 minutes
- Payloads up to 2.5kg (multiple payloads available)
- Dual batteries
- Flight ceiling up to 6000m
But while enterprise products, the Dragonfish drones are designed with safety and ease of use in mind. There’s a one-tap take-off and landing capability, as well as an easy point-and-click user interface, which makes it simple for anyone to operate, even if you’re a relatively new drone pilot.
Built-in safety features include:
- Ability to either land or return to base in case of issues such as loss of GPS signal, loss of operator communications, or low battery power.
- The tilt-rotor system can automatically transition to multi-rotor mode if adverse conditions cause fixed winged flight to stall or become unsustainable.
- Backup modules for the battery, barometer, positioning system, compass, and IMU.
Here’s how each model compares:
|Dragonfish Lite||Dragonfish Standard||Dragonfish Pro|
|Maximum flight time with payload||75 min.||120 min.||180 min.|
|Payload Adaptability||M1, Z2, T3 and T3H||M1, Z2, T3, T3H and L20T||M1, Z2, T3, T3H, L20T and L50T|
|Weight of drone||4.5kg||7.5kg||14.5kg|
|Max. Takeoff Weight||5.5kg||9kg||17kg|
|Service Ceiling Above Sea Level||4000m||6000m||6000m|
|Single Battery Energy||174 Wh||277.2 Wh||822.6 Wh|
All of the drones are made from tough carbon-fiber and fiber-glass composite, providing IP43 wind and weather resistance. It can even fly in moderate rainy weather. They can be relatively easily disassembled should you need to transport them in a tight space. Autel says it takes just three minutes to assemble them, with no tools required.
Which Dragonfish model is best for you?
Dragonfish Pro: best for long-endurance heavy-duty jobs
The larger Dragonfish Pro provides the longest flight time of the series, capable of flying up to 180 minutes with payload (the maximum payload capacity is 2.5kg).
With a 6000m flight ceiling, it can conduct discreet long-endurance surveillance and wide-area mapping.
Dragonfish Lite: best for pilots needing a compact, lightweight drone
This drone weighs just 4.5kg (including two batteries) and has a 1600mm wingspan. Even still, it can carry a payload of up to 1 kg (2.2 pounds), and can fly for 75 minutes.