Automated Low Altitude Air Delivery

Technology demonstration – unmanned freight transport

The ALAADy and ALAADy Demonstrator projects launched in 2016 examine the theoretical and practical aspects of automated and unmanned air transport. For this purpose, the ideal aircraft confgurations for automated airfreight transport were initially determined through the evaluation of fxed and rotary-wing aircraft with regard to their flight performance and characteristics. 

To implement a ‘transport drone’ as a technology demonstrator, particular attention was placed on safety aspects, operational boundary conditions, system architecture and the necessary capabilities. Gyrocopters have the particular advantage of being inherently safe, as their freely rotating rotor enables a soft landing in case of failure, just like a parachute.

To demonstrate various aspects of automated air transport, DLR test aircraft are equipped and/or modifed and tested in flight. A scaled demonstrator called Air Cargo Gyrocopter (ACG), weighing approximately 45 kilograms, is being used to understand the flight characteristics of such confgurations. The 450-kilogram Air Dolly (ADO) gyrocopter, based on AutoGyro GmbH’s MTOfree, is intended to demonstrate the transport of cargo weighing up to 200 kilograms. New automated flight control functions are also being developed for all the gyrocopter’s flight phases, such as take-off, cruising, landing and taxiing. Integration into a simple logistics chain, operation-centric risk assessment, the automated surveillance of the system status by a safety monitor and the safe termination of the flight in case of failure are other project objectives. The fndings from the project will lay an essential foundation for the safe, affordable operation of unmanned aerial vehicles outside restricted areas.

In this context, DLR is a neutral pioneer of civilian research in unmanned aviation.

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Sven Lorenz · E-Mail: ·