Even in the midst of Covid-19, there are two new drones emerging on the scene for hobbyists and professionals who are anticipating their arrival: the Autel Evo II and the DJI Mavic Air 2. U.S.-based company, Terraview, wants to be the alternative to the Chinese DJI and is offering Terraview RangePro X8P as a commercial drone at a competitive price that clearly qualifies to successfully sell to the U.S. government organizations.
DRONELIFE discussed with Bruce Myers, President of Terraview, the option of creating an enterprise drone, which would work with the government and compete with the world’s largest drone manufacturer, DJI.
Roots in U.S. Naval Aviation
The RangePro XP8 drone has its roots in the U.S. Military since Bruce Myers, President of Terraview and Paul Ausley, Founder of Terraview and CEO, are both former Navy F-14 pilots. With the military being many years ahead of civilian drone development, they bring their experience from Naval Aviation and apply those standards of development to their unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The RangePro is designed and manufactured in the U.S. with American-made flight control system (FCS) components. Terraview believes that RangePro XP8 is a deliberately engineered product that will be ideal for government customers and hope it will be fully embraced, not only by them, but by people in general.
The timing for such a challenge may be ideal as well. There is a move to limit exposure to Chinese technology, such as Huawei, therefore, parts of drones, such as the gimbal and/or camera, may be coming under scrutiny. In fact, the Department of Interior has downed its fleet of DJI drones. Whether this leads to more stringent rules/laws or not, it makes sense to become more independent of our Asian “friends.”
According to Myers, the majority of key components, such as FCS, GCS, radios, payloads, and gimbals are either products made in the U.S. or, at a minimum, they are products from non-Chinese suppliers.
Extended Flight Time
This is how Myers describes the RangePro:
“The RangePro is an enterprise drone similar in size to the M200, but with much more payload capacity and flight time (typically over an hour, but, dependent on payload weight). Our focus is on the energy sector, but we have seen very high interest from telecom/tower companies, the U.S. Federal Government, US DoD and first responders (law enforcement and firefighters).”*
According to a company release, the RangePro X8P offers:
- Customization to work in industries, such as energy, agriculture, construction, first responders, mining, and government.
- Longer flight times: “Highly efficient design coupled with higher power density batteries result in flight times that are, on average, two and a half times longer than the competition, allowing users to accomplish more work with fewer batteries and less time spent on battery swaps and maintenance.”*
- Longer service life: “Each battery can support over 500 charging cycles over its useful lifespan; longer flight times, longer service life, and efficient design combine to provide the lowest cost per flight hour, keeping a low total cost of ownership and increasing overall ROI.”*
- The RangePro will be equipped to handle structural integrity surveys, terrain mapping and modeling, construction site planning, solar panel inspections, pipeline inspections, tower inspections and power-line surveys.*
Terraview claims that the RangePro is competitive in price with other U.S.-made drones in quality as a whole, but offers better value because of its extended flight times. In fact, the extended time, for more than an hour, with a standard sensor payload is more than twice as long as other drones.
This improvement is definitely an advantage to any new drone technology since it is one of the main complaints that people have, especially in industries where flight time is not only important, but essential.
Miriam McNabbon, “The Terraview RangePro – A U.S. Based DJI Alternative” (April 19, 2020)
Jason Reagan, “TerraView’s New RangePro X8P Will Pass Drone Bill Standards” (April 14, 2020)