Given that small-ish drones are already being used to deliver small packages, wouldn’t it stand to reason that giant drones could deliver large loads? That’s just what BAE Systems is looking into, with its proposed T-650 Heavy Lift Electric UAS (uncrewed air system).
Being designed in partnership with Britain’s Malloy Aeronautics, the T-650 would be able to lift payloads weighing up to 300 kg (661 lb), then carry them as far as 30 km (19 miles) on one charge of its batteries – its range without a payload would be 80 km (50 miles). It could fly either autonomously or by remote control, reaching a top speed of 140 km/h (87 mph).
Although information on its size and weight hasn’t been provided, BAE does state that it would have a lightweight carbon fiber body, and that its propeller arms could be removed for transit and storage. It would also utilize a streamlined design and large propellers in order to maximize energy efficiency.
Intended primarily for military use, some of the possible applications for the T-650 include the transportation of supplies, the evacuation of casualties from battle zones, anti-submarine warfare, surveillance, maritime mine countermeasures, and close air support (air strikes on enemy forces located near one’s own troops).
“Emitting zero carbon, the uncrewed system could help revolutionize military operations where there is a requirement to carry heavy loads, helping to keep military personnel out of harm’s way in dangerous situations or disaster zones, whilst reducing the environmental impact of our armed forces,” says BAE.
And although we don’t know of any existing drones that quite match the T-650’s proposed lifting capacity, there are a few that can reportedly heft loads of well over 400 lb (181 kg).
Source: BAE Systems