French tethered drone specialist Elistair announced on 5 November the emergence of the ORION 2, a tethered unmanned hexacopter which, unlike other multi-rotor drones, demonstrates an endurance of up to 24 hours at a time, making it a true persistent surveillance platform.

Small, unmanned multi-rotor systems are great if you want a hover-and-stare capability, but they’re also notoriously short on battery life,” observed Timothée Penet, CTO and co-founder of Elistair. “Powered tethering stations, like our SAFE 2 and LIGH-T 4, offer a solution by increasing a platform’s time in the air—and that’s great for many missions. But what if you need to be on station for a whole day?"

A lightweight, yet extremely durable hexacopter, ORION 2 is designed as a quick-deploy system (automated push-button take-off and landing) that can stay in the air for 24 hours. Previously, only tactical aerostats could provide that scale of endurance – much larger platforms with far more complex logistical footprints.

We developed redundancies at every level to ensure that the ORION 2 could stay up that long,” explained Pierre-Moana Levesque, the company’s R&D Director. “For example, we made it IP54; we optimized the lifespan of the components, including the motors; and we added a safety battery that could recharge in the air.”

ORION 2 is an improvement over the original ORION drone, which has already proven itself with international customers and helped secure the Ryder Cup in September 2018, flying over crowds of 300,000 attendees for 8-11 hours a day. It has also been employed by the French police, British military, and Singaporean government.

With its 100m micro-tether, ORION 2 flies higher than its predecessor and monitors a larger area. It can also carry a payload of up to 2kg, so it can serve simultaneously as an ISR and telecom platform. The ORION 2 can stream georeferenced EO/IR imagery at the same time, and can deploy 4G/5G communications nodes thanks to a new fibre-optic cable option.

For a brief video introduction to the ORION 2, click here

ORION 2 provides clear advances over its predecessor in terms of persistence, logistical footprint and data control. (Photos: Elistair)

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