The Silent Ventus is a silent prototype drone with an ion-powered engine. This process of motorization without mechanical parts has been used for a long time for certain space vehicles, but remains very experimental for aircraft such as planes or drones.
Even if it manages to take off vertically, for the moment, it is still far from a low noise level.
During this experimental flight, the high-pitched whistle of the electro-aerodynamic propulsion system is heard. © Undefined Technologies
After MIT’s Ion Drive , an aircraft powered by an electro-aerodynamic device, here is the vertical take-off drone version. Coming from the company Undefined Technologies based in Florida in the United States, and dubbed Silent Ventus for the moment, the drone looks like a kind of flying rack. But the company has just presented its future design, namely a body placed on this structure.
This flying palette has two large superimposed grids composed of high- voltage electrodes . They are in opposition so that the air is ionized and accelerated downward to generate thrust. Unlike the plane, it takes a lot more thrust, and therefore energy , to get this drone airborne and to keep it in the air . It has already made two test flights. The first lasted 25 seconds and, during the second, the aircraft remained in the air for more than two and a half minutes.
Lots of noise for a quiet drone
In both cases, the drone performed its flights indoors, so without wind. The company also touts its technology called Air Tantrum. A technology that will make the device extremely quiet according to the firm, hence the name Silent Ventus.
It is not because there is no engine that an ion propulsion does not make noise, far from it. During its first flight, the drone generated a high-pitched whistle of about 90 decibels .
Undefined Technologies intends to reduce the sound volume to 70 decibels. A level that remains about as high as that of a semi-professional quadcopter drone after all. Nevertheless, for the moment, despite its imposing size, this drone is extremely light and it remains difficult to know if it will one day be able to carry a payload to compete with multirotor drones.