Japanese manufacturer Kawasaki is embarking on delivery drones with a model based on a motorcycle engine. It takes the form of a hybrid helicopter integrating a second drone on wheels, which ensures the last meters of goods transport.
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The vertical take-off and landing airplanes (Adav or VTOL) are expected to invade the skies over cities in the years to come, according to the ever-growing number of models in development for taxis and delivery. The company Kawasaki, better known for its motorcycles, has embarked on the race for drones delivery with a rather original approach.
His K-Racer X1, the size of a car, is a cross between a helicopter and a more classic plane. It is topped by a rotor with large blades, like a helicopter. However, instead of an anti-torque tail rotor, it has two short wings with forward-facing rotors, which manage both the orientation and acceleration of the aircraft. It is not a electrical appliance. The Japanese firm installed the 1,000 cc engine of its motorcycle Ninja H2R, which therefore runs on gasoline, and delivers 310 horsepower.
Images from the test of the K-Racer X1 with its loading drone on wheels (subtitles only in Japanese). © Kawasaki
A drone in a drone
This particular shape is not the only originality of the K-Racer X1. The device also has a cage fixed between the skids, designed to transport a drone on wheels that contains the cargo. This allows to load and unload l’Adav automatically, and without a human approaching the fins.
The wheeled module is currently a simple prototype. However, Kawasaki hopes to be able to create a drone capable of ensuring the recovery and delivery of cargoes weighing up to 100 kilograms, compatible with factories and delivery centers for a fully automated process. The K-Racer X1 is part of the project to develop an automated freight transport platform by Adav in the city of Ina in Nagano Prefecture, Japan.
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