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Flight of the Drones

cache_1327273202 Here come the French:

Three unmanned helicopters are set to be shipped to Japan from France shortly so that Japanese authorities can use them to monitor the unfolding crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the developer of the drones said Wednesday.

Helipse said it developed the helicopters equipped with radiation sensors, infrared thermometers and cameras in response to an order from Japanese authorities last Thursday.

The helicopters can maneuver automatically and fly for 30-60 minutes at a time, it said.

That’s the whole story, so we paid a visit over to Helipse to see if we could learn more. Well, it hasn’t updated its news page since last November and its English page was apparently translated by Google, so nothing specific. But I suspect they are sending over their HE300. The company describes it like this:

Le modèle HE300 est appareil de grande taille avec une capacité d'emport de charge élevée, supérieure à 20 kg.

Il a été dessiné pour répondre à des missions particulières telles que ; l'emport de camera professionnelle, camera thermique refroidie, capteurs diverses de mesure, topographie, emport de réservoir pour la pulvérisation etc. , ainsi que des missions de grandes distances.

En effet, grâce à sa capacité de charge utile et à l'adjonction de réservoirs supplémentaires, la durée des vols peut atteindre 2 heures, et son rayon d'action plus de 10 Kms, (suivant le type de transmission radio embarquée).

Which may well translate as (my attempt):

The HE300 model has a large-load carrying capacity of greater than 20 kg.

It was designed to run specific kinds of missions, including those requiring items such as a photographic camera, a cooled thermal camera, various types of sensors for measuring and/or surveying work or a tank for spraying [whatever needs spraying, assumedly], etc.

It can also cover great distances. Indeed, thanks to its capacity and ability to carry additional fuel tanks, it has a potential flight duration of up to 2 hours and can be operated at a distance of over 10 km (depending on the type of radio included).

That lines up with the Kyodo story pretty well. Good for Helipse – we’ve seen some other companies that have supplied their products for use at Fukushima – and have been impressed that they’ve been so low key about doing so. Well, if they don’t want to promote themselves, we have no problems doing a bit of it for them. Angels on earth, surely.

The Helipse HE300.


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