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Cargo UAS set to deliver

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July 24, 2014

Cargo UAS promises to provide large lift capabilities in a small UAV

Cargo UAS promises to provide large lift capabilities in a small UAV

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With the number of multi-rotor drone concepts competing for a narrow market share, you really need a unique selling point if you want to get your project off the ground. In the case of the developers of the Cargo Unmanned Air System (UAS), their point of difference is to claim a massive 60 kg (132 lb) lift capacity for their proof of concept, with the promise of an eventual production unmanned aerial vehicle that can carry payloads of up to 400 kg (880 lb) with automated "sense and avoid" capability.

The UAS team envisage that items such as mail and parcels, food and water, or even medical supplies and emergency equipment could all be delivered more quickly and securely than is possible with ground transport. As such, they argue that the increasing overcrowding on highways could be avoided using such a system but, more importantly, they believe that in emergency situations such as floods where existing road infrastructure has been damaged or is otherwise impassable, their UAS could be deployed to deliver medical supplies or food to stranded people.

The aircraft's design includes basic landing skids for simplicity, whilst its open frame platform provides greater safety for ground crews to load and unload payloads from the rear of the vehicle. The team further asserts that intrinsic shock absorbers contained between the two central structural frames and the landing skids provide for such unforeseen things as hard landings, and will provide damage protection to both the payload and the airframe.

In addition, the creators of the UAS state that their vehicle has multi-rotor redundancy that will allow the machine to continue flying even in the event of a motor failure. Coupled with a purported "Series Hybrid" propulsion system to add further elements of redundancy, the team also claims even greater safety and levels of redundancy. A ballistic recovery parachute is envisaged to be included on the platform as a standard adjunct to the other safety features.

The UAS prototype airframe without wing coverings and outer skin
The UAS prototype airframe without wing coverings and outer skin

Rounding out the claimed capabilities of this machine are a dual-layered flight controller system, onboard secure data links, optional satellite links and the ability to add other bespoke communications equipment within its airframe, as well as a "sense and avoid" capability incorporating a range of (as yet unannounced) sensors and automatic reaction mechanisms.

Lastly, the team believe that a vast array of arenas would benefit from the use of their platform, and claim that the fast reconfiguration of the airframe from such things as cargo carrier to chemical sprayer to search and rescue unit, would make their UAS a very useful multi-role solution to many airborne challenges.

Having recently started a Kickstarter campaign, the UAS team plans to have completed prototype construction by December this year, and foresees a client demonstration and trial airframe to be flying by August 2015, all going to plan. No dates or prices have been announced regarding fully-fledged commercial units.

The design team details the Cargo UAS in the Kickstarter pitch video below.

Sources: Kickstarter, Cargo UAS

About the Author
Colin Jeffrey Colin discovered technology at an early age, pulling apart clocks, radios, and the family TV. Despite his father's remonstrations that he never put anything back together, Colin went on to become an electronics engineer. Later he decided to get a degree in anthropology, and used that to do all manner of interesting things masquerading as work. Even later he took up sculpting, moved to the coast, and never learned to surf.   All articles by Colin Jeffrey
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8 Comments

May want to add some pontoons.

Can only imagine these heavy objects falling from the sky, and they will leave more than a mark.

Nothing regarding range or flight time?

Bob Flint
24th July, 2014 @ 05:42 pm PDT

Very ambitious. I like the concept, but these guys are a long way from reaching the goal. What is the 'propulsion system' ? And how big is this thing ?

Martin Hone
24th July, 2014 @ 06:33 pm PDT

I imagine that UAVs are at the same stage now that cars were in in the early part of the last century; many makes, only a few of which will endure. I like the concept of this design being scalable so that they can carry over design knowledge as a particular sizes are settled upon.

I just wonder what restrictions regarding airspace will be applied over and above those already in place, and just what those restrictions will do to how practical they will eventually prove to be. We must not forget just how much havoc one of these could create simply by flying in restricted airspace, let alone if one managed to bring an airliner down when it was just taking off, or on final approach. Even the smallest of these devices could do more harm to a modern jet engine than any bird strike, especially if it had been modified to achieve just that.

Mel Tisdale
25th July, 2014 @ 03:59 am PDT

There's no mention of a new engine technology. So the propulsion system will be 4 gasoline fuel piston engines driving 8 rotors. The rotors in a multi-rotor aircraft are much simpler than the single big one on a helicopter.

A UAV that can lift 400 kg can do more than deliver supplies in an emergency, it can evacuate people out of a disaster area.

the.other.will
25th July, 2014 @ 01:26 pm PDT

Mel:

Yes, I foresee obstructionist regulation slowing or killing this technology. The good news is: less and less people are crippled by respect for govt. As that number grows, innovation grows.

Don Duncan
25th July, 2014 @ 06:17 pm PDT

All seems great...but can an operator get insurance cover against any damage or injury caused by a malfunctioning drone - or even a properly functioning drone affected by bad weather.

I would not want to be hit by one of these things falling out of the sky.

Alien
25th July, 2014 @ 09:51 pm PDT

Depending on how ubiquitous cargo drones become, some effort should also be made to make them as quiet as possible.

William R. Mosby
26th July, 2014 @ 01:34 pm PDT

The system is series hybrid for the two larger sizes, "single or twin gensets dependant upon customer requirements"

The video shows "BRS" is standard so from a safety standpoint you have redundancy in the motor format as well as a generator system and onboard energy storage....if all fails it's recovery chute time to save the cargo plus airframe. In my book, much safer than a helicopter.

The noise issue can also be solved as the motors can be run by battery only, in sensitive areas, with the gensets off or idling so yet again, quieter than a helicopter.

With prop guards fitted and a stated size smaller than a R22 rotor diameter, I see a good concept and even proving it with a smaller RC version shows it's not just vapourware, but time will tell!

Hybrid AV
26th July, 2014 @ 10:42 pm PDT
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