Inspenet, October 31, 2023.
A group of engineers from the University of Manchester undertook the challenge of building and operating the world’s largest drone (quadcopter) ever manufactured. To ensure compliance with aviation regulations, they made notable decisions regarding the materials used.
The reason? The United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority establishes that drones with a total takeoff weight of less than 25 kg can fly without requiring special permits . Therefore, the team designed their drone with a weight of 24.5 Kg, just below this limit to comply with regulations.
The project began as a curiosity-driven initiative to inspire students’ creativity in design by utilizing a suitable, low-cost alternative material for lightweight aerospace structures that is more environmentally friendly than regular carbon fiber.
What is the largest drone in the world made of?
After excluding the option of using strong, lightweight carbon, the students opted for a box-type frame design, which was constructed using 5 mm (0.2 in) thick foam board. This board is made up of a foam core covered in paper. To assemble the frame, sheets of foam board were cut with a laser and attached using hot glue.
“Foamboard is an interesting material to work with“said engineer Dan Koning, design and construction team leader. “If used correctly, we can create complex aerospace structures in which each component is designed to be as strong as necessary.“.”Thanks to this design discipline and after extensive background research, we can confidently say that we have built the world’s largest quadcopter drone.”.
The drone measures 6.4 meters (21 feet). “At the time of writing, there is no record of an unmanned quadcopter (four rotors) of any weight class that is larger than the Manchester vehicle.“reads a press release from the University of Manchester.
It should be noted that larger electric VTOL aircraft prototypes certainly exist, but they typically employ more than four propellers. The carbon cap the team set for itself suggests that, in theory, there is a relatively easy path for anyone willing to put in the time to set a new world record in this area.
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