Airpup is the product of 18 months of collaboration between Head Full of Air and The Blimp Works to create a new tethered aerostat that complements drone systems. Airpup’s silent, long-duration flight fills a gap in the drone market: flight capability for locations where FAA rules and site restrictions make drones unlawful or unwelcome.
“I wanted to fly in the park without worrying about flight clearance,” explains Mathew Lippincott, Head Full of Air founder and lead developer of Airpup, “Airpup’s friendly look and quiet flight get a positive response from crowds, allowing me to capture unique sights and sounds from the air.” The FAA classifies Airpup as an exempt moored balloon rather than an aircraft, allowing Lippincott to fly in public spaces around Portland and Seattle despite local restrictions on unmanned aircraft.
Most aerostats require substantial infrastructure to move and fill, limiting their use. Airpup is aimed at broadening the reach of aerostat technology with a novel kite balloon design that maximizes payload capacity and minimizes helium usage. Easily lifting 500g with slightly more than a cubic meter of helium (37 cubic feet), Airpup can be packed in a backpack with a helium tank or moved fully inflated in a minivan or truck.
* Simplified payload attachment: Airpup’s mounting rails accept standard 1/4-20 mounts and eliminate the tangle of strings required for other aerostats.
* Long-duration: Airpup can fly for two days on a single inflation.
* Silent flight: Airpup has no motors to disturb crowds or overwhelm audio recording.
* Towed operation: Airpup is easily flown from boats and ATVs and can accept air speeds of 20+mph.
* Remote operation: Airpup can be inflated and topped up from a 9L SCBA tank for remote field operations of 5+ days.
* Open Hardware: Airpup is open hardware for easy customization.
Airpup is available for pre-order on Crowd Supply for $399.