3689692155?profile=originalLocal Motors had one of their most successful co-creation challenges in the past 40 days with the launch of ACDC (Airbus Cargo Drone Challenge). The challenge started with mostly otherworldly and crazy designs from Local Motors' base automotive design community, but later evolved into a truly collaborative effort between designers and engineers with the shared vision of building the next gen unmanned cargo vehicle.

Looking at the submissions, you will see a nice blend of concepts ranging from pure aircraft design to more user and application focused proposals. You can actually be a part of the selection process by going to the LM platform between June 6th and 16th to vote for your favorite concept!

Here a few of my favorite, non-derivative, original submissions:

Starting with a friendly, approachable, multi-purpose Cargo Drone, POD

3689692123?profile=original                          look, it even has a pair of cute eyes!








This Crazy, most-probably-invalid-but-still-elegant, Design


Andromeda (disclaimer: totally not a spy drone!)


And finally Airbus Engineers' dream design :) it does remind me of a boring but functional chameleon! 


I bet 50K, of my currency of choice, this last one or its equally German sibling is going to win the grand prize :) Let's see! It must have been a fun journey for all the participants and organizers. 

P.S.: feel free to build a prototype of any of these designs or others on the challenge page, LM has a very community friendly license for this purpose as long as you don't use the designs commercially. 

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  • It's just so interesting to see the stark differences in opinions of DIYDroners/Devs and the corporate/biz people.

    Here an update from POD:

    POD Phoenix Omnimode Droneby NiMA
    on Sketchfab

  • Developer

    Yamaha R-MAX has been moving cargo (initially agricultural spraying) since the 90's.

  • You know, thinking about it, I'm yet to see anything about using helicopters to move cargo in a UAV context - maybe it might be worthwhile doing a design exercise to raise the profile of cargo moving helicopters?

    I'd be interested in seeing how a configuration like the Skycrane could be carried out at UAV size - same kind of flight profile as used in this competition?

    Maybe it is possible that this competition might genuinely provoke some real work in this area to push UAV's in the cargo delivery scene?

  • I sure hope so!  Part of the reason for my "crusade" about this, is that most of these contests specifically exclude helicopters, for no reason at all, or for bad reasons.  

  • Rob, I do agree with your statement.  But, up until the point of instant terminal effects, I want a system that is as safe as possible - and reasonable.  The safest thing to do is to not fly, that isn't reasonable in this context, so, whats the compromise going to be to allow flight?  Prop brake features in the Speed Controller that can stop the prop within x milliseconds? and an independent recovery 'chute that auto deploys under certain conditions to bring the vehicles kinetic energy in to a zone that isn't terminal to humans?

    The requirements that decide what is reasonable are part of the set of overall design requirements you have to consider, same as the transport requirements, no good having a product that you can't take places, so that has to be accommodated.  I don't know what the user is going to do at the delivery end - people and all their oddities have to be accommodated as best as possible.

    You can do the job a hundred different ways, and the tricky bit is choosing the way that best suits the most requirements.

    The next competition might come around with requirements that only a helicopter can solve.

    My 2p...

  • Phill, when speaking of 25kg UAV's, the safety discussion becomes... arguing over whether you'd be deader if you get hit by a truck vs a bus.  Any aircraft, multirotor, plane or helicopter, is easily capable of killing a person if they hit them. 

    And a strong argument could be made that helicopters are less likely to hit a person in the first place, since they are far more stable and confident in the hover.  They won't be tipped over and flung into people nearby if a gust of wind catches them from the side or rear.  My helicopters can hover easily with a 40km/h wind hitting them from the rear.  Try that with any quad-plane.

    There is no question that airplanes have longer range potential.  In applications where range beyond that capable of a helicopter come up, there's no doubt which is the correct choice. But most applications I've seen, are possible with an electric helicopter.  And even longer with gas helicopters. 

  • The efficiency of the helicopter is relative. Helicopters are more efficient than multi-rotors in hovering flight, plus, they need about half the power for cruising flight. Thus, helicopters can have a far better range than multi-rotors.

    But, the efficiency is still bad in comparison to a plane! Helicopters lift to drag ratio is below 5, plane L/D ratio can be between 10 and 20 (14 for my design, some others have 18).

    That's why we have VTOL like the V22, but they are complicated, have high maintenance cost, etc. Historically, VTOL were bad helicopters, bad planes, but I think new technology in electric and electronic systems will change that.

    NASA paper about hybrid VTOL : http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20140001088.pdf

    It's not reinventing the wheel : It will not replace helicopters, depending of the mission, we will use multi-rotors, helicopters, planes or VTOL planes.

    Because something didn't work in the past doesn't mean that's definitively a bad idea. Look what's happening in reusable rockets.

    Well, this is what I think :)

  • There are lots of reasons why you wouldn't want to use a very large rotor.  Safety of the untrained user being one.  I don't want one of my designs chopping someone's hand off, because they rushed in.

  • I submitted a design:


    I was also one of the people who wanted to better understand the limits of the competition.

    It became clear to me that the configuration is protected by Airbus IP and therefore, they would, obviously, want to leverage that IP in anything they do in this project.  I get that, and to be honest, that's fine with me.  This isn't the way I would ideally like to tackle this particular challenge - and that leaves me with plenty of options moving forward.

    For what it is worth, I think it is actually really quite hard to hit a realistic airframe design with a MAUW of 25Kg with the time constraints given.  There aren't many that will be able to do this convincingly.

  • And yet, I think the best scheme has long been invented. And it is - a helicopter. Why reinvent the wheel? Successful victories, gentlemen.

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