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April 2023

 

Seaflight's 5th gen prototype "ground effect" wingship, CC, completes maiden flights.

The wingship will soon be the first autonomous ultra-low-altitude drone to fly over the open ocean

After completing its 5th electric cargo drone prototype inside 1 year, the Seaflight Technologies team has been out testing it's most fully-formed version, nicknamed "CC Seaflight". Several hundred kilometers of flying over multiple weeks has seen the wingship drone through troubleshooting and endurance testing in the build up to eventual trials at sea off the coast of California this summer.

CC is designed to fly in a regime called "ground effect", where the wings are close enough to the water that a cushion of high pressure builds up underneath, improving lift and allowing the wingship to either maintain speed at a reduced power (improving range), or to carry a heavier payload with the same power. Both of these are advantageous characteristics for electric aircraft given the current limitations of lithium-based batteries.

The sub-scale prototype has a wingspan of close to 8.5ft (2.6m) and is capable of flight over 80kts (>140km/h), although typical cruising velocity is less than half that. The drone can take off and land on water, making it a versatile performer, but it can also be launched from a catapult to facilitate quick turnarounds between flights, and to reduce reliance on the water and wind conditions.

The airframe is loaded with sensors including cameras, GPS, and both LiDAR and radar. Seaflight's in-house team developed software called "SeaSense" that allows the drone to fly at altitudes of less than 3ft (well within 1 wingspan of the water's surface) in a stable and controlled manner autonomously, while a pilot remains in the loop remotely. Eventually SeaSense will be extended to detect and avoid obstacles and respond to sensed and anticipated disturbances to ensure optimized flight over longer distances - for now  flight durations are capped at under 10 minutes of efficient electric flight within visual line of sight.

 

After refining the software further and testing in more challenging conditions, CC will take to the sea off the California coast this summer as a culmination of the flight test campaign.

Seaflight Technologies Inc.

Contact:
media@seaflight.tech

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