Record-breaking Drone hit 510km/h speeds, dethroning Red Bull for the World’s Fastest Drone

Earlier this year, Dutch Drone Gods, in partnership with Red Bull, unveiled the World’s Fastest Drone that went head-to-head with Max Verstappen behind the wheel of an F1 car. With a top speed of 350km/h, that drone held the title for barely a few months before YouTuber Luke Maximo Bell decided to challenge it.

Taking on the entire design and R&D team of Red Bull Racing, Bell managed to 3D-print a drone that was nearly 50% faster, hitting high speeds of 500km/h (310mph) and setting a new record, verified by the team at Guinness Book of World Records. The video above captures Bell’s entire journey, from prototype to building to tuning, and finally FPV footage of the world’s fastest drone. To think that one YouTuber with a BambuLabs printer managed to outpace a drone built out of carbon fiber by the elites at Red Bull Racing known for manufacturing the world’s leading F1 cars…

Designer: Luke Maximo Bell

Bell’s design process was a reiteration of one of his older drones named Peregreen, which could hit speeds of up to 400km/h. If you look at the shape of the drone you’ll quickly realise how even Red Bull and DDG opted for a similar format. The drone isn’t your average quadcopter or even FPV racer. Instead, it has a missile-style design with propellers at the bottom that give it an eVTOL style ability to vertically take off, tilt forward to race ahead, and then land vertically too.

The backbone of Peregreen 2’s success lies in its meticulous design and the use of high-quality materials. The frame, constructed from carbon fiber, was chosen for its exceptional strength and wide availability. Custom frames were precision-cut using a CNC machine at Flying Robot in Cape Town. Despite initial setbacks with incorrect mounting hole dimensions, which required manual adjustments, the final product was a high-precision, robust frame capable of withstanding the rigors of high-speed flight. Building on data from the original Peregreen, Bell and his father (who helped build the original Peregreen) selected larger motors, propellers, and batteries. However, this brought a new set of challenges. The initial batteries overheated, reaching temperatures above 130°C, leading to failures. Additionally, the motor wires were not thick enough, causing them to overheat and even catch fire during bench tests. After extensive testing and adjustments, the team switched to thicker wires and sourced new batteries that maintained a stable temperature below 80°C. These changes were crucial in ensuring the drone could operate at high speeds without the risk of overheating or component failure.

A cheap reliable way to test aerodynamics, simply hold it outside a car’s window!

Aerodynamics played a pivotal role in the drone’s performance. Initial designs faced stability issues at high speeds, necessitating extensive experimentation with tail lengths and fin sizes. The goal was to achieve a stable flight profile with a low drag coefficient. By creating and testing various models (often by simply 3D printing them and holding them out of a car window at high speeds), the team eventually found a configuration that provided the necessary stability. This iterative process of refinement led to a design that not only looked sleek but also performed exceptionally well in high-speed conditions. The final aerodynamic model was a testament to the team’s dedication to optimizing every aspect of the drone’s performance.

Once a drone’s built, its performance needs to be tuned by programming all its components to work in sync so that there isn’t a malfunction in the sky. Despite several initial failures during test flights, the team sought the expertise of Chris Raser, a renowned FPV drone specialist. His insights and detailed tuning guides were instrumental in resolving stability issues and fine-tuning the drone’s flight characteristics. This collaborative approach underscored the importance of seeking specialized knowledge and continuously learning from each phase of the project. The resulting improvements were significant, allowing the drone to perform high-speed maneuvers with precision and reliability.

The testing phase was rigorous and demanding, marked by numerous iterations and rebuilds. The drone was 3D printed using the Bambu Lab X1 Carbon printer, which proved to be an excellent tool for creating precise and durable components. Through a series of high-speed runs, the Peregreen 2 eventually achieved speeds of 500 km/h, a milestone that underscored the success of the design and engineering efforts. This achievement was officially recognized by Guinness, solidifying the team’s place in the record books.

Beyond setting a world record, the Peregreen 2 project also focused on capturing stunning cinematic footage. By incorporating a new open canopy for the camera (shown below), the team was able to obtain clear, distortion-free shots. The Insta360 Go 3 camera, known for its small size and lightweight, was integral in capturing high-speed footage. The drone’s performance in endurance tests was equally impressive, managing a flight of 7.5 km at an average speed of 180 km/h. These accomplishments highlight the drone’s versatility and potential for various applications.

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