A British startup wants to develop massive cargo drones that can carry the empty weight of a Boeing 747-8.
Promises made by logistics drone manufacturers have been lofty for years. They are intended to quickly transport medicines or perishable food items to places that are particularly difficult to reach. Most of them are designed for relatively small and light products. There are still only test areas, and it will take some time before logistics drones become part of everyday life.
While many companies continue to work on improving parcel drones, startup Droneliner is thinking much more broadly. The Brits are working on none other than the world’s largest autonomously flying cargo drones.
Designed for containers
In contrast to today’s cargo planes, which were originally developed as tubes for passenger traffic, the shape of the drones is reminiscent of a square with rounded corners. Ideal for container loading. Since standard steel containers would be too expensive, the Droneliner relies on special plastic containers.
The largest drone will be the DL350 because it can carry 350 tons of cargo. This means it is capable of transporting about 100 tons more than the world’s largest cargo plane to date, the Antonov An-225, which was destroyed in February 2022. The Giga cargo drone is powered by two turboprop engines. You can choose from the GE9X from GE Aviation or the Ultrafan from Rolls-Royce. Take-off mass 600 tons.
Shift time is one hour
The smaller drone is called the DL200 and can transport up to 200 tons of cargo, allowing up to 40 containers to be loaded on two decks. The DL200 was equipped with only one engine.
The two cargo drones have a range of 12,000 km and are made of carbon fibre. The Droneliner promises ground handling can be completed in about an hour thanks to the two large loading bays at the front and rear.
The goal is at the end of the contract
The startup’s goal is to reduce air freight costs by more than 70 percent with the DL200 and DL350, according to the company. At the same time, the fuel-to-load ratio is particularly efficient, which greatly reduces carbon dioxide emissions generated by freight transportation. However, the creators believe in the idea, even if it costs billions of dollars. The goal is to be in the air by the end of the decade.
You can see more photos of the Droneliner in the gallery above. Clicking on the image opens the gallery in large format.
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