VIDEO: ‘Dronesurfing’ shows why drone makers are suddenly focused on payloads

Picture: Freefly/YouTube

The quest for a better drone has made a notable shift recently.

Right now, it’s not about speed, or amazing visuals or AI. It’s about payload.

That maybe because the wider public is close to accepting the idea of drone delivery, especially when a company as big as Domino’s is all but ready to start dropping pizza out of the sky:

Last week, the Daily Mail trekked out to Amazon’s secret testing field which BI found, and caught some footage of its package delivery drones in action.

But how big and how strong can drones get, keeping in mind there’s an airspace regulation minefield yet to be meaningfully negotiated in pretty much every country?

This strong would be good:

That’s Freefly Systems’ Alta 8, showing us how dronesurfing might become the kiteboarding.

It’s a controversial video, with plenty of commentors going at each other about how realistic it is.

Freefly said it achieved 3-4 pulls of around 30 seconds each per battery set, but right now it’s perhaps best thought of as a showcase of potential, as well as clever editing.

This, though, is perfectly feasible right now:

PRODRONE showcased its new model at InterDrone, The International Drone Conference and Exposition, in Las Vegas on the weekend.

It can handle a 20kg payload, 10kg of which can be lifted by the 5-axis robotic arms, and can hit a top speed of 60km/h.

And when it comes to bigger, stronger drones, the holy grail seems to be finding the point where we can lift people, and solving the headache facing aerospace regulators when it happens.

The world record right now for heaviest payload is 61kg for 37 seconds, by a team of engineers from the University of Oslo. But it took a monster made from eight hexacopters.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen with our own eyes an Australian drone effortlessly lift a bale of hay on its first test outing on a farm in Tasmania. Its makers, Freedom Class Racing, say that prototype is capable of carrying 200kg and a public demonstration is not at all far away.

However brief, it was an eye-opening experience of how far drone technology has moved out of the hands of hobbyists, and Freefly’s drone is a great example of big thinking.

Surf’s up.