Since their appearance, drones routinely go into operation from ground level; but not for much longer. This is the "Drop n' Drone", developed by the start-up Airborne Concept. A drone capable of being dropped at up to 13,000 feet (4,000 metres) from an airplane or an helicopter, thanks to the wing, aligned initially with the fuselage, which automatically rotates through 90° when dropped. To land a second parachute deploys.
So what are the key benefits of this drone? : Deployment by air, which allows it to operate over absolutely any area in the world, whether hostile, inaccessible or polluted. It has a hydrogen fuel cell powered flight autonomy of six to eight hours. With its capability of being launched from aircraft, it has no necessity of taking-off and climbing to altitude, which are particularly energy consuming. Finally its utmost discretion, since being quipped with an electric motor, the Drop n' Drone is silent.
In early July, the first test was carried out successfully, with the drone being dropped from a hot air balloon; but there are still a lot of tests before its planned marketing during the first half of 2016. This drone could well be put to use in operations similar to the Reaper or Patroller, being radio controllable thousands of kilometres from its deployment area.
The price tag for a Drop n' Drone is around 100,000 euros. And if the military seems interested, it is also the case for the civilian market. Some companies such as Orange (the French multinational telecommunications corporation) or Météo-France (the French Meteorological Office) are already on the list of potential customers.