A father and son designed the world's fastest quadcopter drone

A father-and-son team recently set a new Guinness World Record for the fastest quadcopter drone, speeding past the previous title holder. After months of fervent trial and error, Luke and Mike Bell's remote-controlled Peregrine 2 design zoomed through the air at a ridiculous speed of 290 mph (478 km/h).

As the team's four-propeller drone reached its top speed on April 21, Luke Bell posted his project overview and Guinness confirmation earlier this week on YouTube. According to Bell, it was a lot to overcome before they even managed to get their design into the air without going up in flames.

First, there was the fact that Bells didn't have a proper wind tunnel to test out their various aerodynamic design ideas. Instead, they worked with what they had: their 3D-printed prototypes, a car, and an open stretch of highway. While one Bell pressed the accelerator, the other held each quadcopter frame model out an open window and then filmed the interaction with increasing wind speeds. Meanwhile, battery tests continued to result in serious failures, until the Bells finally believed they had found a system that worked.

After drawing up a final schematic, the Bells installed the necessary wiring, engine components and propellers and then subjected the drone to its first test flight. Unfortunately, they haven't found a solution to the indoor heat caused by the amount of electrical current flowing through the system. With temperatures reaching as high as 266 degrees Fahrenheit, the drone's wiring ignited, sending their first attempt to the ground.

After briefly considering giving up on their goal, the Bells went back to the drawing board, constructed a second iteration and launched the new quadcopter, which promptly caught fire as well. This led the pair to “completely redesign the entire drone body,” according to Luke. More testing and design tweaks followed, but after weeks of work they thought they finally had a quadcopter ready to take the world record spot.

[Related: Swiss students just slashed the world record for EV acceleration.]

After gathering multiple independent witnesses (a Guinness World Record requirement), Peregrine 2 was ready to take off. The drone flew a total of four runs, with the average of the two fastest flights reaching a speed of 478.47 mph. At almost 65 km/h the previous world recordthere was no doubt about the new champion – in not one, but two categories.

Because the Bells equipped Peregrine 2 with a camera to document its flights, the quadcopter also technically broke another world record, this time for the fastest camera drone. Not bad for airtimes that only lasted a few blinks.

“Three months of hard work, failure and engineering would ultimately come down to a few seconds of high-speed flying,” Luke said in his video review.

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