An empty weight of 25kg and 7kg of fuel gives us rougly 32kg of empty take-off mass, and you then could load it up with not-quite 50kg of payload. Significant, but a far cry from the 150kg that was reported.
Their quoted "25kg" payload is likely about right for a shorter flight.
EDIT: Looks like their ARTF electric version uses the Ardupilot CUAV V2+ - https://ardupilot.org/copter/docs/common-cuav-v5plus-overvie...
I can't find any information on the data link, that they call: "Sprintlink Pro Data link & Video Link". So not sure if this uses cellular networks, or something else during flight. Hybrid products definitely exist: https://www.skyhopper.biz/products/communication-data-links-...
EDIT 2: The ARTF version is wild. For under $20K - you can just buy a drone that can deliver a 3kg package (6.6lbs) anywhere within about a 100 mile range. https://www.muginuav.com/product/mugin-ev350-full-electric-v...
Besides "last mile shipping" and smuggling implications, I'm trying to think of how this could be useful today. Maybe some kind of search and rescue where someone activates a personal locator beacon, and you could send them supplies before you could reach them? A little under a gallon of water?
IDK, seems like a stretch. But I feel like there has to be more practical implications.
The myth that drones are cheap should die. Crappy plastic toys with flight times measured in minutes are cheap. The real deal is just as expensive as everything else.
Most current drones are highly custom, like cars in 1900. They can be much cheaper once a "Ford T" of drone tech emerges.
Seems it's only the airframe though and maybe the fuel tank.
VTOL motors, alternator, engine, props, control system etc. are all extra.
The EU / Spanish polices also got apparently much better at intercepting cannabis dealers trying to pass from Morocco to Spain (hence maybe these new drones attempts).
So now there are both individuals and gangs (including gagns from Morocco and from eastern europe) growing a huge lot of weed in Spain. As in: it's becoming very big business.
Individuals have the right, legally, to grow up to two cannabis plants (I think two plants for one adult in the household is the rule and you can legally by flowering and auto-flowering cannabis seeds in shops). But quite some individuals are, illegally, growing much more than two plants as a way to meet months' ends.
Technically this delivery drone is impressive but dealers from Morocco have much bigger problems than trying to stuff ganja into drones without getting intercepted: growing cannabis plant and making hashish and ganja directly in Spain, at cheaper prices.
It's not just about the cost of the drone, it must be a serious undertaking for a gang to get a hand on one of those without anyone noticing. The thing is basically an ultra-light aircraft, and probably extremely illegal to operate anywhere in Europe or any sane jurisdiction...
Maybe those guys just hatched a crazy-ass idea, financed it with their previous marijuana "business" but haven't so far gotten around to actually buying cocaine in Morocco, much less smuggling it with a drone...
This will also help spur more anti-drone legislation ruining for the rest of us that never intended to use drones in this manner.
It's large enough that it will require extensive certification and permits both for the airframe and the pilot.
Also, limit the co-op to be run by citizens of that country/city to keep it from becoming international rings (bwahahahaha, as if that would work)
I believe that's a misconception. There were a few loopholes, fixed by a recent law (three or four year ago IIRC) that nuked cannabis clubs.
I'd say it's mostly safe to grow one of those auto-flowering seeds in your balcony, providing you use some translucid plastic, but telling the police "I have the right to grow two plants" seems like a weak defense.
I found back the article (in english) I read earlier this year on the subject:
It would help to also legalize cocaine, but even Colombia that would benefit most from it, is still not ready to do something to break the status quo.
Quoth Wikipedia: Some studies suggest that consuming alcohol in combination with cocaine may be more cardiotoxic than cocaine and "it also carries an 18 to 25 fold increase over cocaine alone in risk of immediate death".
It's quite obvious that another 50 years will not do any difference, but the proposed bill just might.
On another note, I really don't see that thing carrying 150kg (330lbs) of useful payload. That would be an aerodynamic marvel for forward flight, and there is just no way those 4 electric motors can support vertical flight with a 150kg payload.
I am just an r/c hobbyist and would love to know if I am off on the payload somehow.
Payload is "25kg" and that's probably optimistic.
The idea of relying on fighter jets/attack helicopters/SAM systems shooting these things down sounds like an entirely asymmetric and unsustainable state of affairs.
edit: something like this
No doubt this will happen to drones too.
The friendly European airforce must have been sleeping because the article never mentions any attempted investigations or interceptions by the same. I imagine just like the US in 9-11, they'd be caught with their pants down if terrorists actually tried to use a fleet of these things.
But here in Europe they usually have only secondary radar active afaik.
I imagine it's always going to be police doing police work that catch these guys, as happened in this case, and not jet fighters.
Also, the prior art for smuggling across the straits were fast launches which would bump upon to beaches and be quickly disgorged. This means that the Guardia Civil take a lot of interest in what happens along the coast.
Also, let it be said that the coast up East from Gibraltar is very much not as empty as it is from Algeciras Westwards, with a lot of development on the Costa del Sol. Makes it hard to have slower than launches/ribs submarines do their thing.
Just a fun fact, I heard that during WWII most of the U-boats that made it through the Strait of Gibraltar never made it out. A combination of being sunk and not having powerful enough engines to make it back out.
- ed. Less bubbles.
They design torpedo style units that get towed behind a fishing boat or such. At a desired location they detach it, and it just loiters below the surface. At some pre-arranged time it pops up to the surface and activates a radio beacon, so that a pickup ship can snag it.
It's less complicated than building an autonomous AUV, and far less likely to be spotted by arial surveillance than a narcosub. Lower capacity but still very lucrative I imagine. And very nearly risk free.
The drone was apparently off the shelves. And the police didn't say if they ever actually got it into the air at all.
So if you're coming from Morocco with a homemade sub (probably woefully unoptimized for being quiet), I'm gonna assume that those listening will pick up your signature.
Maybe the drone could even finish charging unattended and take off to fly back to Morocco.
Imagine coupling a Web app with a swarm of drones that can drop product on your back porch in a matter of minutes.
You can bet it's coming for illegal products.
In the summer, some of them have bikes...
A Pixhawk Cube or similar is around the £250 mark.
Yeah. A bit ambiguous. I guess the mention of cocaine was to improve the profile of the bust.
But article makes no sense. They write about the drone used for smuggling cocaine because it is the most lucrative thing, but they found only a few dozen kg of marijuana and hashish each where it was stored?
That seems to be the only way out of this mess.
So many movies would not exist if drugs were made legal.
Too bad. Better luck next time.
Fly lower to save fuel? How does that make sense?
Propellers like lower speeds and altitudes; fans like higher speeds and altitudes . This is because propellers hit the air at the true air speed. Compressors in a turbofan modify the incident pressure and air speed, letting the engine purr away without concern for creating shock waves.
This is a propeller craft.
> Turboprop engines are most efficient at speeds between 250
and 400 mph and altitudes between 18,000 and 30,000 feet
Ignoring the detail that your source is talking about turboprop (so, turbine engine with a big fan attached) and not a small piston engine, that's still not low altitude. That's class A airspace!
Even in a piston aircraft, you have to adjust your mixture as you climb, right? You have to add _less_ fuel per unit of air. And there's still all the drag from the aircraft itself, it's not just about propellers.
Sure, I doubt this drone would have a turbocharger, so performance (or rather, horsepower) is expected to drop above 10000ft. But not efficiency.
The problem is the air gets thinner as you go higher, meaning you need to fly at higher speeds, which means you need to fight more drag. Really it's not flying at low altitude to save fuel, it's flying slow to save fuel.
Jet engines become more efficient at higher speeds which compensates for the increased drag, and thus jet aircraft fuel efficiency goes up at higher altitudes. Piston engines are unaffected by airspeed, so at higher speeds they are doing more work at the same engine efficiency. Thus the aircraft fuel efficiency goes down.
I could not find a non-technical source for this, thank for explaining well. In summary, drag increases quadratically with mass flow while thrust increases linearly to density. So a slower-turning prop in denser air moving the air frame slower keeps the frame aloft and works more efficiently than the same frame running higher and (necessarily) faster. The power plant (turboprop or piston prop) is independent of all this.
Helicopter lift efficiency varies heavily with altitude, but how it varies depends on the weight of the helicopter. Heavy helicopters require quadratically more torque to hover at higher altitudes, but lightly-loaded helicopters can actually require less torque to hover at higher altitudes. Here's a (complicated but really cool) diagram to calculate on page 7, figure 7-6. https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/a...
Since electric motor current draw is approximately linearly proportional to their torque, heavy-lift electric helicopters/drones would almost certainly conserve energy by flying lower. I'm not sure how that applies to this drone, which probably weighs below the lowest line on that diagram, and also has more, smaller, higher-speed rotors.
This vehicle probably spend most time traveling as a fixed-wing aircraft, and for those, efficiency almost always increases with altitude. (Except that their combustion-powered engines may require compressors to continue operating at higher altitudes. This aircraft's ICE may actually suffer from this, if it is an inexpensive engine not designed for aircraft.) So if the statement is correct, it's probably referring to the energy saved by not having to climb in the first place.
I'd like a flying car!
I remember helicopters for sale in Farnborough Air Show, probably 30 years ago now, the cheapest there cost about £100k. I assume inflation has quadrupled that, but I don’t follow that market and the stuff on eBay I am unqualified to gauge the quality of.
The most successful small aircraft the Cessna 172 Skyhawk has averaged than 1,000 produced per year and runs ~400,000$ new. They could easily drop that to under 100k with modest levels of automation, but can’t justify automation with current levels of demand. Similarly only minimal levels of R&D is worth is at when the market is tiny.
It’s even worse in the Helicopter market. Presumably someone designing a flying car is going to take the R&D and automation risks assuming they will pay for themselves.
I flew 172s for a while and I was really surprised how old most of the tech was. Built with rivets, engines still using leaded (or lead replacement) gas, still using manual mixture like an old car with a choke. Even the wired microphone in a modern (manufactured in the 2010s) C172 still has this ancient feel about it (not to mention that you couldn't use it anyway as the prop noise is way too loud to use a radio without headphones).
The instrumentation side definitely has caught up (like the Garmin G1000 glass cockpit) but the whole airframe + engine combo seems to come straight out of the 1950s. I imagine this adds to the cost as a lot of this tech is no longer mainstream so there's no economy of scale. You can see this in part costs too, and in the price and availability of AVGAS (some airports here really don't want to carry it anymore and if they do it's really expensive).
I've heard of C172s been retrofitted with modern turbodiesels with full FADEC but I really don't get why they don't come like this out of the factory these days. I did see that some of the lighting tech was upgraded though: The later ones did have LED beacons. But most of the tech was very old.
Unfortunately, this hits GA harder as they have vastly fewer components to worry about and small production runs are discouraged. That said, assuming flying cars are going to come from or limited to the US seems unlikely so the EASA also has a significant role.
But light aircraft are a hard thing to sell for really practical reasons. They have a lot of real world limitations for small overall improvements in performance vs ground travel.
This might be different for some air taxi services within metropolitan areas.
I think the pro-electric people are underestimating the maintenance requirements though, especially since anything flying has very conservative requirements put on it, so just saying "these electric motors will run fine for 10,000 hours" or something like that isn't going to cut it.
No, gas turbines are much more reliable, and cheaper to service than reciprocating engines.
I agree that they are more reliable though (part of why most helicopters use them, since loss of the engine is much more serious problem than in planes)
Aircraft certified piston engines will reach that cost in overhauls much quicker than a turbine
Now could someone make a drone shaped like an f-117 and make it invisible to civilian radar? probably. That sort of engineering is easy with todays technology.
Vertical takeoff and landing may be overkill for that use case. They could probably get away with Ardupilot and just crash the drone...
Fortunately, most people who are able to build such a drone (I think many drone-hobbyists could) are smart enough not to go into drug smuggling.
https://www.statista.com/chart/18527/cocaine-retail-steet-pr... shows 67 USD per gram, which means that if you've got 150kg of cocaine on board, the street value is just over ten million USD.
I don't know how much of that would be profit, but seems quite likely there's an excellent cost vs reward ratio - potentially even so high that these drones could be used almost disposably if they are intercepted less frequently than boats.
When interrogating a pilot the pilot can clearly signal distress to compatriots and is likely going to take longer to actually disclose their intended destination.
Can't wait till we end the stupid "war on drugs".