British Team Makes Landmark Drone Flight Over the English Channel

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

1816: Élise becomes the first steam ship to cross the English Channel
1909: The Blériot XI becomes the first aircraft to fly over the English Channel
2016: The Ocuair Enduro 1 becomes the first drone to cross the English Channel

Remember the name. British drone company Ocuair has completed the first successful quadcopter flight over the English Channel, cementing the Enduro 1’s name in the record books. The drone took 72 minutes to reach Dover from a French beach near Wissant, travelling 21.7 miles in the process.

Due to drone regulations, the Ocuair team had to stay within 500m of its creation at all times, following it by boat. It was a good thing too, as the Enduro 1’s GPS autopilot lost the plot 20 minutes before the end of its mission, forcing Ocuair to finish the journey using manual controls.

Simon Vaitevicius, the records officer for the British Model Flying Association, verified the achievement, and said, “This record is so important in the context of future drone activity such as delivery of parcels and things like that, because it’s a proof of concept, proof that drones can be used over distance reliably over time.”

It represents a major step, as the overwhelming majority of existing drones aren't designed for long-haul, long-distance use. Watch the entire journey (sped up, of course) through the clip above. [DigitalTrends]