Concept: Florida-based startup Undefined Technologies (Undefined) has tested the flight of its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) ion propulsion drone called Silent Ventus. The eVTOL has the potential to redefine dual-purpose cargo delivery drones.

Nature of Disruption: Silent Ventus uses patented technology to produce an ‘ionic wind’ that propels the vehicle in the desired direction by ionizing oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the surrounding air. The aircraft’s central component ‘Ion Booster’ creates the ion cloud and claims to provide up to 150% more thrust than existing ion thruster technology. The prototype aircraft demonstrated its flight capability during the 4.5-minute flight beyond achieving steady-state conditions with efficient power delivery systems and noise levels under 75dB. The all-electric drone with ion propulsions can produce low noise levels while significantly increasing thrust levels and mission length.

Outlook: The industry for drone logistics and shipping is expanding rapidly. Undefined’s ionic propulsion drone has completed an outside flying test and plans to go on sale in 2024. It intends to have flights of 15 minutes duration that are free of noise limitations for the last-mile cargo delivery industry by the end of 2023. Ion thrusters have a technical and financial chance to become a viable option for electric propulsion because of the thrust enhancement provided by the technology.

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