Aerodynamic design of transport drones

transport drone, sustainable ultralight structures, smart battery systems

© Fraunhofer IVI

»ALBACOPTER®«: Experimental Vertical Take-Off and Landing Glider

Developing the third dimension of urban traffic space, in terms of Urban Air Mobility (UAM), opens up solutions for increasing logistical flexibility, while overcoming the negative consequences of a constantly-increasing volume of traffic. As part of the Fraunhofer »ALBACOPTER®« lighthouse project, six institutes are developing an innovative drone concept capable of making a significant contribution to electrified autonomous, pollution-free (peri-)urban air traffic. 

© Fraunhofer IVI
Vision of an albacopter
© Fraunhofer IVI
ALBACOPTER with integrated battery modules

The key aim of this project is to first use the ALBACOPTER® concept to develop innovative technological approaches in relation to electronic transport drones that bring together the advantages of agile multicopters and the efficiency of gliders, as well as allowing for great versatility. Part of this project will be an experimental platform capable of flight, which will be used to investigate modular and scalable system solutions, depending on what the transport mission is. In this context, the necessary range, the payload being transported and the speed of flight will play a decisive role. As part of the project, real, airworthy eVTOL gliders are being built to serve as technology carriers, which will be used for test and demonstration flights within the project.

As a lightweight construction institute, Fraunhofer LBF will work on the aerodynamic design of all structural components of the drone’s body and wings as part of this project. In this regard, emphasis is being placed on the use of sustainable, bio-based, recyclable materials, the integration of electromechanical interfaces in the wings and the integration of sensors to monitor the load-bearing lightweight structures. This also includes the development of transport boxes with additional functions. Within the project, LBF is also focusing on the development of ALBACOPTER® battery systems with their own battery management and monitoring system, along with reliable integration of the energy storage unit into the lightweight structure, as shown left).

Areas of application for eVTOL gliders include, inter alia, just-in-time logistics networks and automatic supply systems for urban and rural settings, with maximum distances of 200 km and a maximum payload of 200 kg.

In the Fraunhofer ALBACOPTER® lighthouse project, this flying experimental platform with the VTOL capability of a multicopter and the aerodynamic advantages of a glider is to be developed and approved for test flights by the end of 2024. Six institutes of the company (ICT, IEM, IOSB, IMS, IVI and LBF) are bringing their expertise and technologies to this ambitious research project. Find out more here: www.albacopter.fraunhofer.de

© Fraunhofer IVI