While many people live by the motto “the sky is the limit”, China is breaking past this, having successfully tested high-altitude drones ‘near space’.
This area begins 20 kilometres above sea level and has extremely low temperatures and thin air. It is known as the “death zone” for drones because most of them are unable to fly in such harsh conditions.
The altitude and atmosphere in the air makes drones harder to generate lift while batteries and other electronic components are more likely to fail because of the low temperatures.
However, China has recently developed a new type of drone that will be able to endure these conditions without any technical problems.
Yang Chunxin, an aeronautic science and engineering professor at Beihang University says there are many challenges in developing drones that are able to withstand such high altitudes, “One of the biggest headaches is the near-vacuum environment, where electric currents can produce a spark. This can lead to shortages and damage electronic equipment.”
Last month, a research facility in Mongolia tested two drones that were “the size of a bat”. They were sent up on high-pressure balloons and were both deployed at different altitudes. The successful experiment tested one of the drones at an altitude of 25 kilometres.
Drone enthusiasts are eager for the release of more information regarding China’s new unmanned aerial vehicle.