Drones

Wacky-winged drones may have a flying ace up their sleeve

Wacky-winged drones may have a...
Plans call for FLY-R's jet-powered R2-HSTD to fly at speeds of up to Mach 0.65
Plans call for FLY-R's jet-powered R2-HSTD to fly at speeds of up to Mach 0.65
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The FLY-R R2-150 has a top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph)
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The FLY-R R2-150 has a top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph)
The FLY-R R2-240 is planned to have a hybrid powertrain, allowing it to cruise at 180 km/h (112 mph) for up to 10 hours
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The FLY-R R2-240 is planned to have a hybrid powertrain, allowing it to cruise at 180 km/h (112 mph) for up to 10 hours
Plans call for FLY-R's jet-powered R2-HSTD to fly at speeds of up to Mach 0.65
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Plans call for FLY-R's jet-powered R2-HSTD to fly at speeds of up to Mach 0.65
The FLY-R Crystal CR-1200 should be able to carry up to 800 kg (1,764 lb)
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The FLY-R Crystal CR-1200 should be able to carry up to 800 kg (1,764 lb)
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There are now a lot of fixed-wing drones on the market, and most of them look pretty similar. FLY-R's aircraft are different, though, in that they incorporate a rhomboidal wing design – it's claimed to offer some distinct advantages.

Putting it simply, a rhomboidal wing has an open-center diamond shape when viewed from above.

In many cases, this is formed from a front pair of wings set low on the aircraft, along with a rear pair of wings set higher up. The front wings are swept back while the rear wings are swept forward and angled downward, so they join the front wings at the tips – it's almost like a biplane, in which the ends of the upper and lower wings have been pinched together. A traditional tail isn't required.

According to FLY-R – which is based out of the French-owned Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean – this setup is superior to a conventional wing in several regards. First of all, the wingspan is reduced by about half, plus there's a reduction in aerodynamic drag. Additionally, the structural mass is decreased by approximately one third, the plane remains stable at a wide range of speeds, and it's highly maneuverable.

The company is developing several different drone models, all of which incorporate the rhomboidal wing design.

The FLY-R R2-150 has a top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph)
The FLY-R R2-150 has a top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph)

Currently in functioning prototype form, the battery-powered R2-150 is designed for tasks such as fully autonomous surveillance, observation and reconnaissance. It has a wingspan of 1.5 m (4.9 ft), a cruising speed of 115 km/h (71 mph), and can fly for up to two hours per charge – transmitting real-time video as it does so. It can also automatically take off from a ship- or truck-mounted Vacuum Launcher (sort of a vacuum-powered catapult), and automatically land in a recovery net.

Other models are designed to go farther, carry heavier payloads and fly faster. The jet-powered R2-HSTD, for instance, is planned to have a top speed of Mach 0.65 (803 km/h or 499 mph). It's intended to serve as a target drone, for military exercises.

FLY-R even has plans for a short- to medium-range passenger-carrying aircraft, named the Crystal CR-1200.

The FLY-R Crystal CR-1200 should be able to carry up to 800 kg (1,764 lb)
The FLY-R Crystal CR-1200 should be able to carry up to 800 kg (1,764 lb)

Seating two pilots and eight passengers (although other configurations could be possible), it would feature a hybrid drive system in which a fuel-burning generator would charge an onboard battery pack, which would in turn power the electric motors of the two rear pusher propellers. At its cruising speed of 350 km/h (217 mph), it could travel over 1,000 km (621 miles) without refuelling – that figure would increase if it wasn't carrying its maximum possible load.

That said, it may still be some time before you see a CR-1200 at an airport near you. In the meantime, you can check out the following video of the R2-150 in flight.

Source: FLY-R

100th flight

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8 comments
8 comments
stevendkaplan
I wonder how the wing responds as you approach the sound barrier. Could a plane with this go supersonic or would the wings rip themselves apart?
tony
It looks like a stronger design, less flex.
Laszlo KRUPPA
Most convincing wing design! Superior maneuverability makes me wonder why we cannot see these wings on fighter aircraft?
dugnology
I see the structural benefits, but wouldn't there be a massive amount of interference drag where the wings join?
Username
Strange how there is an edit cut every time the drone hits the net.
TomWatson
OK, First thing I think of is less flexibility. Does this impede any movement?
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is really neat. I remember a small single seat plane that had that wing configuration. I am not sure it did very well. It was really small; seemingly just big enough for a pilot and the engine behind the pilot.
ljaques
It seemed to have a very sensitive to any winds whatsoever. The flight was never smooth, always moving in either pitch or yaw, or both. The landing seemed to be difficult to control, too. You'd think they would have figured that out before the 100th flight. Maybe the jet is less squirely.