Design Language & technical basis
The design process for the proposed all-terrain cargo drone concept presented here was accompanied by technical guidance right from the beginning, in order to converge the design process finally to a technically feasible solution. Technically feasible meaning with respect to the production (additive manufacturing) as well as the aerodynamics of the drone for its envisaged operating environment.
Only two technical requirements have been provided at the beginning of the design work as constraining input, on the one hand the minimum dimension of the cargo bay and on the other safety operation on ground.
Already the first design sketches utilized bionic forms seamlessly enwrapping the cargo area and the lifting propellers. Several design sessions, supported by technical discussions, evolved the design towards a first design freeze. All designated airfoils of the first design freeze have been superimposed with a NACA 0012 profile to further guide the next design sessions. Finally, after some more design - technology iterations, the presented design shape was worked out.
Explanation of design details
Payload and cargo concept
- Landing gear. Due to the blended wing body and the resulting overall rigid structure, we can use the wing tips as mounting points for additional landing gear elements, which simultaneously serve as crash structures, wheel housings and floating bodies.
- “Waterproofness”. The proposed concept elegantly solves the waterproofness of the drone by means of the landing gear elements at the tips of the wings that are designed to be floating bodies that together with the main body allow the drone to swim and operate on water.
- Modularity/Ship-ability. The drone disassembles into only five main parts, being the two wings with their two lifting propellers respectively, the main body (fuselage) and the two underwings on each side. With almost 3 meters the main body (fuselage) is the longest part of the disassembled drone.
- Ease of handling. Putting the five main parts together is an easy job to do at almost every environment. After a short test of the main propulsion elements and the avionic the drone is ready to use and fly.
- Weight. The current estimations show that the proposed drone concept can transport up to 5kg of cargo and can stay with its overall weight at 25kg or below.
- Fail Safe components to prevent catastrophic failure. Above the cargo bay there is space for a parachute rescue system, composed of one large or several small parachutes. As all rotating propellers are embedded into the blended wing structure and no further external structures of the drone can impair the parachutes at operation, the advocated parachute rescue system is technically feasible and sound for the drone.
- Safety provisions. The high degree of safety during operations is provided by the embedded lifting rotors that can be covered and the likewise embedded impeller for the cursing mode of the drone. Due to the shutter like covering of the lifting rotors it is possible on ground to only open the shutter slightly for functional tests before take-off, increasing safety of the operating staff at ground
- The cargo bay is constructed to have the minimum dimensions of 450x350x200 as defined by the requirements. To be flexible with the loading of the cargo, the bay is accessible from beneath as well as from the front together with the nose of the drone.
- Removability of the drone nose together with the cargo structure allows for an easy reconfiguration of the drone avionic in the nose and extending the avionic into the cargo bay area.
Disclaimer: Submission of Airbus Group employees