from the giving-packages-a-'lift' dept.
What do you get when you cross a plane with a blimp? A Plimp. That's not a joke, it's what the thing is actually called. Manufactured by Seattle-based Egan Airships, the 28-ft (8.5-m) unmanned aircraft has a helium-filled envelope allowing for blimp-like buoyancy, while its winged rigid body allows it to travel quick-ish like a conventional drone.
When the Plimp is taking off and landing – or just hovering on the spot – its two wings rotate so that the electric motors/propellers are facing straight up. This allows it to move vertically. Once it's time to get a move on, however, the wings rotate into a more airplane-like orientation, in which the props are facing forward. In this mode, it can achieve a maximum speed of 40 mph (64 km/h) with at least one hour of flight time depending on payload.
Should the motors conk out, the sub-55-lb (25-kg) Plimp won't just plummet from the sky. Thanks to the buoyancy of its envelope and the lift provided by its wings, it can reportedly glide down at a speed of 9 mph (14 km/h).