The South Korean government and the Israeli Ministry of Economy unveiled an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, with a hybrid engine. Combining an old electric battery system with an internal combustion engine and an electric power generator for the first time in the world, it has doubled its flight time and can charge a battery while operating.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) held an intermediate demonstration of a vertical takeoff and landing UAV with a hybrid engine under joint development with Israel at the Gyeryongdae Emergency Landing Strip in South Chungcheong Province on December 14. The UAV was developed by Hankuk Carbon and Israel’s state-run defense firm Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) through an international joint research project. The demonstration was attended by 100 officials from the (MOTIE), the Ministry of National Defense, the Korea Aerospace Industries, Airbus and the Korea Drone Industry Promotion Association.
The new drone with fixed wings is equipped with an automotive hybrid engine for the first time in the world. Korea developed a hybrid engine system controller, battery and drone fuselage, while Israel was in charge of design, system technology and static testing. With the hybrid engine, the UAV is possible to double its flight time to eight hours from four hours of existing drones with electric battery. During vertical takeoffs and landings, the UAV is powered by electric batteries. When cruising, the UAV’s batteries are charged by an operating gasoline engine with high energy density. In particular, it can make the UAV fly with low noises. The drone is 2.9 meter long with an 8-meter wing and has a maximum takeoff weight of 67 kilograms. It also has an 8.5 kilogram payload and a maximum speed of 130 kilometers per hour as well as a maximum communication range of 60 kilometers and a maximum rise of 4.5 kilometers.
The UAV is expected to be used in various sectors, such as detection of oil leakage in oil pipelines, illegal fishing and coastal surveillance in the future. The two firms in the joint project plan to establish a joint venture to commercialize developed technologies, taking a step further than the partnership in research and development. They also aim to develop new markets in third countries, including Middle East, later.