Airbus has demonstrated a sub-scale prototype of its future muti-mission and transport drone at a robotic military exercise led by NATO and the Portuguese Army in the Troia Peninsula region.
During the event, the company flew the “cargo copter” to assess its usefulness and modular design for easy, flexible, and quick swapping of payloads and batteries.
The Airbus Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) New Programmes group constructed the prototype in partnership with the company’s X-Works rapid prototyping team to meet military mission requirements ranging from logistics to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations.
The flexibility allows the cargo copter to serve as a tactical communications relay and a combat force multiplier.
“This was a great opportunity to trial our small-scale demonstrator in realistic conditions,” X-Works Lead Jens Federhen said.
“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.”
Airbus Multi-Mission and Transport UAS
The Airbus Multi-Mission and Transport UAS is a 35-kilogram (77-pound) vertical take-off and landing drone sized to accommodate a range of payloads.
It is equipped with an Airbus-developed DeckFinder for automatic landings on ship decks.
Airbus UAS New Programmes plans to develop a full-scale version of the cargo copter that can carry up to 250 kilograms (551 pounds) of payload with a range of 300 kilometers (186 miles).
According to the company, the full-scale version can also be deployed for humanitarian missions, crisis management, and disaster relief operations.