Logistic Gliders has created drones made from plywood that they hope will resupply ground-moving military forces. Currently, the gliders have completed 12 prototype flight tests, where six were deployed from a helicopter sling load, six were deployed from a Shorts SC-7 Skyvan, seven were flown via radio control, and five were flown autonomously.
These low cost and disposable drones are making headlines since they’re made from cheap material and can travel at low altitudes with no airfield-type landing zone. They are estimated to cost a few hundred dollars each to put together.
Some other advantages to these drones, according to Logistic Gliders, include being able to operate in all weather conditions including high winds, and delivering supplies anywhere a parachute can drop.
The drones were developed under a contract with DARPA and Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL).
Essentially, each glider is similar to a wooden box with electronics and servos that make up the autopilot and gas springs so the wings can deploy. In total, the glider uses about 400 individual parts, which includes each screw.
Some options in deploying the cargo gliders include deploying from the back of a cargo aircraft or getting dropped from a helicopter. Once released into the air, the wings unfold to a 23 ft. wingspan and have a payload capacity of up to 700 lb.
The gliders can fly autonomously, or they can also be flown using a remote pilot using radio control and first person video.
When ready for landing, the glider can land horizontally or land vertically using a parachute. Evan Ackerman in IEEE Spectrum says essentially each landing is a “controlled crash no matter what.”
Engadget says Logistics Gliders will continue to test the gliders in 2019 under its contract with the Marines.
Currently, the company is working on two designs: the LK-1K glider, which is 10.4 ft. long with a 23.2 ft. wingspan, and the LG-2K RAIN glider, which is 12.7 ft. long with a 27.2 ft. wingspan and has a cargo capacity of 1,600 lb.
The company hopes their drones can help provide supplies to troops in remote areas that are too dangerous to send an airplane or helicopter.
Filed Under: Rapid prototyping