Engineers from the University of Manchester have successfully flown a potentially record-breaking unmanned quadcopter drone, which they believe to be the largest of its kind.
Manchester University Sets Enormous Drone Record
While the university claims this achievement, there is no independent verification of the record.
As the name suggests, quadcopters are drones equipped with four propellers.
This drone is constructed from foamboard, giving it a cardboard-like appearance, and boasts an impressive 6.4-meter (21-foot) wingspan.
The inaugural flight of this massive foamboard quadcopter, known as the Giant Foamboard Quadcopter (GFQ), took place in July in a hangar at the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre.
Kieran Wood, a lecturer in Aerospace Systems at the University and the pilot of GFQ emphasized the critical nature of the first moments of flight for multi-copter drones, stating that precision is required in countless aspects.
Thankfully, the flight proceeded smoothly, avoiding any unexpected disassembly, as he humorously described it.
The drone, which also has the capability to fly autonomously, weighs 24.5kg, slightly below the weight limit of 25kg set for drones of this type by the Civil Aviation Authority.
The Art of Sustainable Drone Construction
Constructed from sheets of foamboard, which consists of foam encased in paper, it initially served as a student project exploring the use of cost-effective, environmentally friendly materials for lightweight aircraft structures, as an alternative to the typical carbon fiber.
Professor Bill Crowther, from the university, lauded the design, highlighting that it effectively supports a 25kg aircraft using strategically placed pieces of paper, demonstrating the art of the achievable.
The team’s next goal is to create an even larger drone.
Despite the unconventional use of cardboard-like materials in drone manufacturing, cardboard drones hold serious potential.
Australian company SYPAQ manufactures fixed-wing cardboard drones, and they have been deployed in Ukraine. In a noteworthy development, the company disclosed that they were shipping hundreds of these flat-packed drones to the country each month.
These drones offer several advantages, such as their ease of assembly by soldiers in the field and their low radar visibility due to their cardboard construction.
Originally designed for carrying payloads like blood supplies, some of these drones have been reportedly adapted in the field to transport munitions and have been utilized in various operations.
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