Research, Technology

The largest cargo drone "Atlas" will reduce the cost of cargo delivery

Drones are gradually being introduced into all areashuman activities. Perhaps the most widespread are military drones, without which no modern army in the world can exist. In addition, they are also used for civilian needs. Recently, we talked about the first Russian helicopter drone VRT-300, which is used by Russian Post to deliver parcels. Now, it looks like another drone is on the way that deserves your attention. At the beginning of this year, the Sukhoi Design Bureau announced the start of assembly of the largest cargo drone, which is a combination of an aircraft and a copter. Thanks to the vertical takeoff capability, it does not need a runway. At the same time, it can cover long distances. We will talk more about what this device, called the Atlas, is below.

The Sukhoi company is assembling the first sample of the Atlas drone

How the Russian Atlas drone will reduce the cost of cargo delivery

UAV "Atlas" was developed by designersSukhoi company together with the engineers of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. Recall that the Sukhoi company is known for its S-70 Okhotnik military attack drone, which we talked about earlier.

Through a combination of aircraft design andcopter, the drone will be able to cover thousands of kilometers, but at the same time it will take off from any platform. The vertical movement is provided by the rotors, which are driven by electric motors. A gasoline internal combustion engine is responsible for the horizontal movement.

Sketch of cargo drone with vertical takeoff "Atlas"

Presumably the drone will be completelyautomatic. This means that the operator only needs to indicate a point on the map, after which the device will fly by itself. Only one person is needed to service the UAV. The drone will deliver cargo to remote areas where there are no airfields. Moreover, due to the fact that pilots and a maintenance team are not needed for the transportation of goods, the cost of delivery will decrease by 40%, which is a very significant indicator.

The design and characteristics of the UAV "Atlas"

Visually, the Atlas cargo drone resemblesairplane. Its length exceeds 7 meters, and its wingspan is more than 11 meters. Vertical takeoff is provided by 8 propellers, the engines of which are powered by a battery. I must say that the designers considered the possibility of using a single propeller like a helicopter, since it would require less energy. However, a single propeller is inconvenient and degrades aerodynamic properties in horizontal motion.

To make a vertical takeoff, the droneup to 800 kW of energy will be needed. For understanding, this is the power of a small submarine. To provide the motors with the necessary amount of energy, MIPT is developing a special battery. Why is a conventional lithium-ion battery not suitable? The fact is that the battery to power the engines will have to give half of its energy in a matter of seconds. Existing batteries are not capable of instantly discharging. Therefore, at present, the whole world is working on the creation of “fast” batteries.

The main characteristics of the UAV "Atlas"

In addition, the engineers decided to reduce the operation of the electric propellers from the planned 8 minutes to a few minutes. This will be enough for the plane to take off and land.

The average speed of the UAV is over 250 km/h.It will be able to carry loads weighing more than 200 kg. The volume of its cargo compartment is 2 cubic meters, and the total takeoff weight, that is, the weight with cargo and fuel, exceeds one and a half tons.

Knots of the cargo UAV "Atlas"

Why the Atlas drone is unique

As we said at the very beginning, nowa prototype drone is already being assembled. It is planned to work out vertical takeoff on it, but this is not the most difficult thing. Specialists will also have to puzzle over the transition from vertical to horizontal movement.

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The fact is that when typing horizontalspeed, the propellers lose their carrying capacity, but the speed is still insufficient for the wings to hold the aircraft in the air. Therefore, the designers will have to refine the design so that the aircraft can successfully switch from vertical to horizontal movement, and vice versa.

It must be said that for this reason the world has not yetthere are serial vertical takeoff drones. If the engineers manage to solve all the technical difficulties, the Atlas will be the first drone of its kind.