University of Toronto graduates have recently developed a next-gen drone that is capable of vertical takeoffs and landings.

Jeremy Wang, a fourth-year student in engineering science, is leading a nine-person team of designers that are creating and testing the long-range drone.

The team hopes to design an unpiloted aerial vehicle (UAV) that combines the best features of both fixed-wing and multi-rotor drones.

Conventionally, fixed-wing UAVs have been able to fly long distances, but the downside is that they require a long runway to take off and land. Multi-rotor UAVs, on the other hand, can perform vertical take-off and lands, but have a shorter battery life and are only good at flying short distances.

The drone created by the team, titled the DX-3 Vanguard, includes multiple rotors spread across a fixed-wing body. This allows the drone to take-off vertically before transitioning into forward flight. The DX-3 Vanguard can theoretically “carry a payload of up to three kilograms, stay aloft for up to 24 hours, and cover up to 1,500 kilometres before refuelling.”

The drone also has a cloud-based data management system, allowing users to “process, upload and view images and video data” from the DX-3.

In an interview with U of T news, Wang praised the university’s engineering program, stating, “I think this team is a testament to U of T engineering. The faculty provides a very solid and rigorous academic foundation, but also a very rich co-curricular environment where you can join design teams, take part in competitions and supplement theory with experiential learning.”