Yamaha's latest unmanned helicopters ready to spray or survey
In 2014, Japan revised the laws surrounding UAVs, increasing the maximum laden weight from 100 kg (220 lb) up to 150 kg (331 lb) before a vehicle runs into any restrictions. Now Yamaha has taken advantage of the extra breathing room by announcing two new UAVs: the crop dusting Fazer R, and the Fazer R G2, for surveying, photography and other industrial uses.
Yamaha has been in the industrial UAV game for decades. In that time, its unmanned flyers have mostly been used for spraying crops in Japan, but have spread around the world in recent years, with the US getting on board for commercial agricultural use to begin next year. Other versions, like the R-Bat developed with Northrop Grumman, are being considered for search and rescue, border patrol and surveillance applications.
Following in the agricultural footsteps of its predecessor, the new Fazer R squeezes a little more power out of the current model's two-cylinder engine. The output sees a slight bump from 19.1 kW to 20.6 kW without increasing the RPM, thanks to a widened exhaust and a better compression ratio.
With its sprayer attachment, the UAV tips the scales at 71 kg (156.5 lb). It's capable of carrying 30 kg (66 lb) in its seed hoppers, or 32 liters (8.5 gallon) in spray tanks, which is enough to cover 4 hectares (10 acres) according to Yamaha.
Other handy additions include upping the wireless control range from seven to 10 frequencies in order to reduce crosstalk, and new 3D wing-shaped tail rotors, which have been redesigned with help from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to make the craft more aerodynamic and efficient.
The Fazer R G2 is based on this same model, but rather than spraying crops via remote control, it's been kitted out for long-range autonomous flight, with photography and surveying purposes in mind. In that department, it has the brains of Yamaha's RMAX G1, which allow autonomous flight sandwiched between remote control takeoff and landing.
With a satellite-capable transmitter-receiver and a 12 liter (3.2 gallon) fuel tank – more than double that of the Fazer R – it can cruise for up to 100 minutes and travel as far as 90 km (56 mi), which is a marked improvement over the old RMAX G1's 3 km (1.9 mile) range.
It's a little heavier than the Fazer R at 81 kg (178.5 lb) and is able to carry 35 kg (77 lb) of equipment. The ceiling has been raised from 1,000 m (3,281 ft) up to 2,800 m (9,186 ft), opening up a much wider range of high-altitude surveying and photo ops.
The Fazer R will be available in Japan from November for ¥13,424,400 (US$130,000), while the Fazer R G2 will be available for rental and service provision in April 2017. Both new models are on display at the Japan International Aerospace Exhibition this week.