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58 T he number and variety of solutions to the range limitations of battery-electric multi-rotor UAVs has grown considerably over the past few years. With more and more types of fuel cells, diesel-electric and gasoline- electric engines to choose from, it is important for their long-term commercial viability that such systems are proven and matured through real-world testing and use-cases wherever possible. The HYBRiX 2.1 quadrotor UAV was unveiled by Spanish company Quaternium at the start of 2020, and serves as one of the newest examples of such technological maturity. The HYBRiX started life five years ago as a hybrid-electric unmanned aircraft, and has undergone repeated improvements to the point that its nominal endurance is now between 2 and 4 hours. Quaternium’s development team notably proved the UAV’s capabilities recently, by flying it for 8 hours and 10 minutes in February 2020. “That beats the craft’s previous record of 4 hours and 40 minutes, set in 2017, and we intend to mature the technologies involved in order to pave the way for further new applications in the future,” says the company’s CEO Alicia Fuentes. HYBRiX origins Quaternium was founded in 2008 as a producer of battery-electric UASs and components. Before the HYBRiX, it had developed two electric multi-rotors, the Spidex V3 and the Spidex Pro, both for commercial video filming applications. “At the time, customers were buying drones in parts and assembling them themselves, but because some companies were starting to offer very accessible turnkey platforms, this do-it- yourself market soon shrank,” Fuentes recounts. “Commercial end-users were suffering from limitations in flight time, however, owing to the limitations of Maturing a set of technologies has extended the range of this gasoline-electric quadcopter. Rory Jackson reports Distance runner April/May 2020 | Unmanned Systems Technology