The DRACO-2 is designed to fly non-stop and un-refueled for 4500 nautical miles (8800 kilometers). It launches from a standard runway, and provides near-real-time video from on-board the air vehicle for the first 150 miles of flight. At cruise altitude, it then switches to high-resolution, low-light, on-board cameras that are updated every 5 seconds and provide a view of the aircraft path and the air vehicle’s location over land or water. Day or night, good weather or bad, the Draco-2 has the capability of flying for days without stopping or refueling.
For added safety, the DRACO-2 has a unique, proprietary sense-and-avoid sensor suite that detects objects that may conflict with the air vehicle’s flight path – and can instantly turn right or left, climb or descend – to autonomously avoid anything in its way…even as small as a bird. The DRACO-2 can even fly safely on two rotors – and every essential system on board is redundant to assure mission completion.
The DRACO-2 is controlled via satellite, and is in constant communication with both the Launch and Recover Element (“LRE” – located at the launch point in Japan) and Mission Control Element (“MCE” – located at the destination landing point of Moffett Field, Mountain View, California, USA). The air vehicle is monitored by two pilots on the ground, in constant contact with Air Traffic Control. The trip is expected to last about 45 hours – and provide spectacular views of the air vehicle and its flight path – both day and night – while in flight.
The entire flight – from takeoff, climb, cruise and landing – will be available on the Pacific Drone ChallengeTM website.