The Ohio State University’s Aerospace Research Center is claiming a world speed record (pending verification) for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) of any size.
Ohio State says its drone flew autonomously with sustained average speeds of 147 mph over an out-and-back course approximately 28 miles long, which also set a record for the longest UAV flight over an out-and-back course.
The 17-minute flight occurred on Wednesday, Aug. 30, from Kelleys Island Airport in Ohio; the course extended to the east over Lake Erie. The Ohio State team of engineers overcame technical challenges such as fuel limits, radio range and collision avoidance. According to the university, the 70-pound, autonomous aircraft opens up new capabilities for applications such as rapid package delivery or search-and-rescue.
The Ohio State-designed drone has a custom-built flight controller, long-range fuel tanks, redundant radio control links, control via satellite communications link, and ADS-B in/out transponder technology for collision avoidance. Led by engineering professor Jim Gregory and research scientist Matt McCrink, the university’s team collaborated with Ligado for the satellite communications and with uAvionix for the ADS-B transponder.
“Setting a world speed record is a fantastic way to push technology forward,” Gregory said following the flight. “Aviation records have a rich legacy going all the way back to the Wright brothers, and we’re building on that tradition. We’re hoping to spearhead a competitive technology push for higher speed, longer range and enhanced safety for UAVs.”
The official record is pending review and certification by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. An official observer representing the NAA was present for takeoff and landing.
According to Ohio State, the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center was instrumental in supporting the operation by coordinating Federal Aviation Administration approval through a Certificate of Authorization.