Aerospace & Defence

Innovative cargo drone concept is capable of high-precision landing

6th May 2022
Paige West

CycloTech and Yamato Holdings have created a mid-class cargo eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft capable of precision landing in confined areas and able to handle challenging wind conditions.

The two companies completed a joint feasibility study which involved two elements: a new thrust vectoring propulsion technology, named CycloRotors and the PUPA701 (Pod Unit for Parcel Air-transportation).

The PUPA701 is part of the PUPA family of detachable and compatible cargo pods to be carried by eVTOL aircrafts or other advanced air vehicles. It enables a separate loading/unloading sequence from the aircraft’s process cycle to secure a safe and fast ground handling and efficient cargo logistics process.

CycloRotors are based on the same principle as the Voith-Schneider-Propeller, successfully applied for highly agile and stable ships in the maritime industry. The compact design and direct and instant control of magnitude and direction of thrust offer a natural, stable transition from hover to forward flight and superior manoeuvrability. The unique characteristics of CycloRotors give vehicle manufacturers unprecedented freedom in designing and operating aircraft and drones.

For the first time, the unique characteristics of CycloRotors were used to design a mission optimised unmanned cargo eVTOL, compact in size, stable in windy weather with precision landing capability into confined areas of 5m in diameter, and capable of transporting 45kg payload over a distance of 40km.

The design features a battery powered, distributed electric propulsion system configuration with six omni-directional thrust generating CycloRotors ensuring safety in flight and during take-off and landing, as well as stability in crosswinds of up to 36kt (18m/s). Its compact design of only 2.7 x 2.5m square footprint offers unobstructed, ergonomic access to the PUPA701 bay.

All operations can be handled from one side, be it loading and unloading the payload, complete swap of the pod or charging or exchanging batteries. It ensures flexible, fast, safe and ergonomic handling, minimising hazards to the operator or the vehicle. With this, short turnaround times and easy logistics operation for a highly efficient aerial last-mile delivery can be performed.

The design is based on extensive calculations, wind tunnel testing, and the first flights of a technology demonstrator. 

The companies have published a whitepaper explaining the detailed outcome of this study.

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