Airbus’ UAS New Programmes group joined forces with the company’s X-Works rapid prototyping team to develop the “cargo copter”, says an article published on Autoevolution.
Unmanned aerial vehicle
The unmanned aerial vehicle is a 35-kg (77-lbs) vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft designed to carry different payloads.
The sub-scale demonstrator has a modular design, allowing rapid battery swaps. It is also outfitted with the Airbus-developed DeckFinder, so it can land autonomously on moving ship decks.
It was created for military applications, so the drone can be used for cargo transportation and (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) ISR missions. It can serve as a communications relay too.
The VTOL’s capabilities were tested last month in realistic operational conditions as part of the REP(MUS) 2022 military exercise held in Portugal’s Troia Peninsula.
The aircraft demonstrated shore-to-ship cargo transfer.
Teams also validated its flexible design with rapid swap-out of batteries and payloads.
The vehicle was also used for unmanned aerial surveillance.
“Performing the demonstrations in such a demanding environment – surrounded by six research ships, 11 warships and 120 uncrewed systems around us – was extremely challenging, and at the same time very productive, as we have been able to learn and create useful collaboration links,” said Jens Federhen, who leads the X-Works rapid prototyping team.
This is just a glimpse of what the “cargo copter” will be capable of. In addition, the tests provided crucial data that will be used to develop a full-scale multi-mission cargo drone.
Airbus UAS New Programmes hopes that the full-scale version of the drone will be far more advanced.
The drone should be able to travel more than 300 km (186 miles) while carrying payloads heavier than 250 kg (552 lbs).
Airbus also hopes to use its Multi-Mission and Transport UAS in civilian applications. For example, the company plans to utilize it in the case of natural disaster response and humanitarian relief aid.
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