Aircraft

China's Autoflight puts a canard twist on its latest long-range eVTOL

China's Autoflight puts a cana...
The V400 Albatross is a large, long-range cargo-carrying eVTOL aircraft
The V400 Albatross is a large, long-range cargo-carrying eVTOL aircraft
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The V400 Albatross is a large, long-range cargo-carrying eVTOL aircraft
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The V400 Albatross is a large, long-range cargo-carrying eVTOL aircraft
A 100 kg load could be transported 1,000 km using Autoflight's hybrid powertrain
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A 100 kg load could be transported 1,000 km using Autoflight's hybrid powertrain
A bigger V1000 design is in the works for larger and heavier loads
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A bigger V1000 design is in the works for larger and heavier loads
Autoflight has announced its intention to join the eVTOL air taxi market, potentially with a similar autonomous canard design
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Autoflight has announced its intention to join the eVTOL air taxi market, potentially with a similar autonomous canard design
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At the 2020 World UAV Conference in Shenzhen, Chinese heavy drone company Autoflight unveiled a big new canard-style electric VTOL cargo drone, and announced its intentions to develop a similar aircraft for urban air taxi operations.

The new V400 Albatross is an unmanned cargo drone capable of carrying payloads up to 100 kg (220 lb) over impressively long distances. Its fully electric version offers a range of 300 km (186 mi) carrying a full payload, and a hybrid version is available as well, promising 1,000 km (620-mile) flight ranges.

As with many eVTOL designs, it's built to transition, rising and landing vertically as a hexacopter on six large props, then transitioning to horizontal flight on a slim, 9-metre (29.5 foot) wing and a smaller canard wing at the front, with power supplied by a pair of push and pull props on the front and rear of the main fuselage. Its carbon composite body keeps weight down to around 300 kg (660 lb).

A 100 kg load could be transported 1,000 km using Autoflight's hybrid powertrain
A 100 kg load could be transported 1,000 km using Autoflight's hybrid powertrain

It's designed to operate autonomously, using a flight controller that Autoflight is amusingly forced to stress has "completely independent intellectual property rights." It's got built-in sense-and-avoid capabilities, and full-time 4G/5G data connections along with a full sensor suite that includes ground radar to assist with VTOL.

Autoflight says the Albatross will be used for "express logistics," and emergency operations, particularly where mountains and islands make ground transport tricky or time-consuming.

But the company has bigger targets in its sights, and in the same press conference it announced its intention to move into the air taxi space with plans for autonomous passenger-carrying eVTOLs, as well as larger-scale logistics aircraft. Autoflight says it's looking at the "air logistics operation system" side of the problem as well as 3D vertical commuting.

Source: Autoflight.

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2 comments
paul314
Other than emergencies, medical-supply transport and perhaps ultraglamping, it's hard to see what the market for a vehicle like this would be. How often do people or companies suddenly realize that they need 100 kg of stuff a few hundred km away in the next hour or two? As a tech demonstrator for something larger, it does sound really cool, though.
jerryd
Since a twin coaxial rotor carries 5x the payload than this can take off, hover an fly as fast, farther and doesn't require computer stabilization as naturally stable even in crosswinds . All the computer needs to do is tell it where to fly, how high and fast.
Vs this need 20x more electronics that can go wrong.
And most flights are short, within 10 miles
With the H-47s, Various Bell, Kamam ones that are killer on liftoff payload, what counts. And I believe our new attack helicopter is one.
You can park 4x as many on a rooftop ve this fiasco.