Airbus and Local Motors Team up For Cargo Drone Competition

Dean Sigler Announcements, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Richard Glassock, a long-time contributor to the blog and now a Research Fellow in Hybrid Propulsion Systems for Aircraft at the Institute for Aerospace Technology, the University of Nottingham, England, shared this news about an Airbus-sponsored contest for cargo drone designs.

ZELATOR, the Main Prize first place winner in the Airbus/Local Motors Cargo Drone Challenge

ZELATOR, the Main Prize first place winner in the Airbus/Local Motors Cargo Drone Challenge also took third place in the Cargo Prize

Local Motors, well known for its 3D-printed automobiles, and Airbus Group, well known for its range of commercial and military aircraft, just completed a design contest that drew 425 entries.  Rewards were significant for the top three places in the competition, with a main award First Place prize of $50,000, a trip to the Farnborough Airshow in England, and a “1-of-a-kind Cargo Drone Flight Jacket with personalized patch.”  Second place earned the winner $20,000 and third place $10,000, with garnering each a trip to the Farnborough Airshow.  Airbus executives judged the entries and decided winners.

Design criteria included required capabilities and characteristics:

  • Vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) and efficient forward flight.
  • Hybrid design between multi-rotor and fixed-wing aircraft.
  • Two flight modes: hover and flight.
  • Modular payload system.
  • Weighs less than 25 kilograms.
  • Single, fixed cargo bay suitable for payloads of three to five kilograms (6.6 – 11 pounds).
  • Easily accessible and interchangeable cargo bay which is impossible to jettison in flight
  • Cruise speed of at least 80 kilometers per hour (49.6 mph), and a maximum speed of 194 km/h (120.3 mph).

Secondary prizes for cargo and “community” (as judged by the Local Motors community) had fewer prize dollars, with first, second and third prizes in each category.  Nine prizes were available and five competitors took them all.  Harvest Zhang from Mountain Valley, California, harvest three: second place in the Main Prize, second in the Cargo Prize, and third in the Community Prize.

Airbus and Local Motors announced winners at the InterDrone 2016 International Drone Conference and Exhibition held in Las Vegas.

The Main Prize

1st: Alexey Medvedev from Omsk, Russia for ZELATOR

2nd: Harvest Zhang from Mountain View, California (United States) for Volans

3rd: Dominik Felix Finger from Aachen, Germany for Minerva

Cargo Prize

1st: Finn Yonkers from North Kingstown, Rhode Island for SkyPac

2nd: Harvest Zhang from Mountain View, California (United States) for Volans

3rd: Alexey Medvedev for ZELATOR

Community Prize

1st: Frédéric Le Sciellour from Pont De L’Arn, France for Thunderbird

2nd: Finn Yonkers from North Kingstown, Rhode Island for SkyPac

3rd: Harvest Zhang from Mountain View, California (United States) for Volans

Jay Rogers, Local Motors CEO and co-founder, sees the promise in the contest results. “Phase I of our partnership demonstrated to Airbus the power of community-based creation and open innovation,  Phase II of our work together will now demonstrate Airbus’ commitment to the community. The results will be nothing short of game changing and I could not be happier to continue our journey into the world of UAV, built on an open system, with Airbus.”

Jana Rosenmann, Head of UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) with Airbus Group, shares Jay’s enthusiasm. “We are excited to expand our experience with co-creation and the community to the realm of software and services.  We are optimistic that Phase II of the project will lead to challenging prevailing technologies and business models in the world of drone services.”

The two companies have created a digital distribution platform for drone-based apps and services, including a store that sells drone-based services designed and developed by an open-source community, part of the Local Motors corporate philosophy, apparently.  Services will be delivered by Airbus Drones.

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