Align Demeter E1
Align just announced its new industrial model(?), the Demeter E1. The massive RC (or autonomous) helicopter is designed for agricultural purposes.
Well, this is not a 3D model for sure. But it is a good alternative of a real helicopter or manpower. Officially it's a unique model, but of course many parts are the same as on a T-Rex 800E. There is no emission due to its electric operation. However the suggested 12S 10000 mAh is a bit killer - in terms of the battery costs. As far as our calculation goes, one flight costs about 8-10 pounds including the spare parts and battery costs excluding any crashes.
As the official announcement promises, the helicopter is able to fly on its own operated by the advanced AP2 flight controller following the preprogrammed flypath. But it can be controlled remotely by the transmitter provided in the configuration. The helicopter has got quality onboard camera for FPV operations as well. The factory brochure reads a lot about this helicopter which is more a drone than a helicopter.
The datasheet is full of figures, it's pointless to copy them over, let's try to understand some facts.
It is big - very big
The more than 2 metres rotor diameter makes it the biggest Align helicopter. The blades are long: 990 mm per blade. Tail is also big, bigger then the rotor diameter of a 150X. The motor is the well known 850MX Dominator which is enough to fly this machine.
It is professional - not hobby grade
This is obvious by its price, which is almost 10 Grand - okay, it is true containing almost everything. It's above all hobby limitations. Full takeoff weight is almost 30kg (65 pounds). No hobby insurance will cover it - depending the country where you fly, they are valid up to 5-7kg usually. Thus it will be hard to sell your flying as recreational activity. So it falls in professional use requiring professional drone operator license and many more depending on your country.
Yes, it flies on its own with many features, like "return to home", carry on, flying directions and so on. But it can be controlled as a normal RC helicopter as well. But it requires an operator after all.
No doubt, it is. As Align promises, it will be 60 times as fast as the manpower, what makes sense. Based on the previous calculation, it does the same job as 60 people. Therefore at the end of the day it is much cheaper. It flies for 15 minutes for 10 pounds (rounded up). 1 hour costs 40 pounds. 60 people cost at least 480-500 pounds. And spraying is more efficient than spraying on traditional way. More or less known fact: helicopters are better than aeroplanes in spraying - due to the rotor wind. An aeroplane can cover the field, but there is no turbulence, which can spray the bottom side of the leaves. Helicopter does it correctly even in this size. At the first place the price seems a bit high, but if it does as promised, this helicopter worths its price in a really short time.
Of course, emission is zero during the flight, because it's fully electric. Nothing comes out of the helicopter apart from the chemicals - which was the intention. No damage on the plants, no environmental effects. And no extreme huge noise, like a real helicopter.
To be honest, when I began to write this article, I wasn't sure, it will be a good business, but I have convinced even myself. This helicopter is a really good offer to all farmers even with larger lands. If I were a farmer I would consider to buy one. And not because I'm an RC helicopter pilot. Simply: it makes sense.