Keep Your Eyes on This Drone Company—WingXpand Has Been Winning Awards, Making Moves Since Launching Last Year

BY Zacc Dukowitz
24 January 2023

Drone manufacturer WingXpand had its debut at the last AUVSI XPONENTIAL conference, in April of 2022.

Since launching the company has racked up awards, including a prestigious Techstars Los Angeles award.

Techstars Los Angeles is a startup accelerator program that works in partnership with the U.S. Space Force and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. Including WingXpand, only 12 winners were chosen last year out of 600 entries.

wingxpand-drone
Credit: WingXpand

WingXpand only makes one drone. And it works like you might think, given the company’s name—it expands.

Pre-expansion it’s small enough to fit into a backpack, but after expanding its wings the drone turns into what the company describes as a “customizable, 7-foot autonomous airplane.”

Here’s a quick video of the drone in flight:

WingXpand™ Drone Takes Flight

In addition to selling its drone, WingXpand also offers consultation services and drone services, with a fleet of Part 107-certified pilots available for commercial work.

Why Make a Drone That Expands?

Short answer—because, in some key ways, it allows you to build a better drone

WingXpand’s drone combines the portability of a multi-rotor with the heavy-lift and long-range capabilities of fixed-wing craft.

According to WingXpand, the unique design allows its drone to fly up to five times longer than most fixed-wings and carry 10 times more weight than a conventional quadcopter.

wingxpand-compare-table

Here’s an overview of specs and features for the WingXpand drone:

  • Weight. Less than five pounds.
  • Flight time. Over 2.5 hours.
  • Assembly time. Two minutes.
  • Edge AI. Capable of fully autonomous flight with real-time object detection.
  • Modular payload. Allows users to install the sensor they need (for example, a multi-spectral camera for work in agriculture).

The last item is worth emphasizing, since it lets WingXpand customers configure the drone to make it the right tool for the work they’re doing, whether it’s surveying, insurance inspections, aerial videography, or package delivery.

The WingXpand drone can also operate in GPS-denied environments, making it a good option for long range missions in rural areas where connectivity may be a challenge. Also, if GPS is lost when the drone is on a mission, it can return to home following a predefined path.

wingxpand-graphic
Credit: WingXpand

Other Awards and Recognitions for WingXpand

In addition to winning a spot in Techstars Los Angeles, WingXpand has won several other awards since launching.

Here’s a full list:

  • Techstars Los Angeles recipient for 2022
  • Winner of a 2022 St. Louis Arch Grant
  • Named a 2022 “Top Company for Women in Emerging Aviation Technology” by Women and Drones
  • Named the company with the ‘Most Innovative Technology of the Year’ out of more than 300 participants at the 2022 Natural Disaster Expo in Anaheim

I knew that there was a real need in the market for a highly powerful, UAV or a small drone that can fly longer and carry more payload . . . Bigger wings equal longer flight times and you can carry more pro tools for our professional customers.

– James Barbieri, Co-Founder of WingXpand

drone-wingxpand
Credit: WingXpand

Who’s Using WingXpand’s Drone?

Many drone manufacturers struggle to find customers when they first launch.

But WingXpand already has an active user base. Since launching, the company has received support from the U.S. Air Force and conducted demonstrations for the U.S. Special Forces, where it’s received a lot of interest for long range surveillance operations.

The company plans to manufacture its drones in the U.S., which will be an additional selling point given ongoing security concerns about drones and drone components made overseas. It has also made a commitment to use components in its drones that comply with the National Defense Authorization Act.

Beyond military and defense applications, WingXpand has been seeing interest from:

  • Public safety—wildfire surveys, inspections, and support for search and rescue operations.
  • Inspections—monitoring plant health, mapping & surveying for inspection purposes.
  • Agriculture—collecting information about crop health (the WingXpand drone can cover over 1,000 acres in a single flight).
  • Oil and Gas—asset monitoring and inspections.

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