World’s Largest Quadcopter Drone by University of Manchester

With today’s technology, setting records for the smallest drone or the heaviest cargo lifted by a drone may not be particularly challenging. However, creating the world’s largest drone while adhering to strict weight limits relative to its size presents a significant challenge. This ambitious endeavor was undertaken by researchers at the University of Manchester.

World’s Largest Quadcopter Drone by University of Manchester

A team of engineers at The University of Manchester has successfully designed and flown the world’s largest quadcopter drone. This innovative drone, named the Giant Foamboard Quadcopter (GFQ), is constructed from a material called foamboard, measuring 6.4 meters (21 feet) from corner to corner and weighing 24.5 kilograms (54 pounds), just under the weight limit set by the Civil Aviation Authority.

What sets the GFQ apart is its unique design. Its four arms are made of hollow box structures and can be easily detached for transportation, a feature not found in any existing uncrewed quadcopter. This project began as an endeavor to inspire student creativity while using an eco-friendly, low-cost material for aerospace structures.

Foamboard, unlike traditional carbon fiber, is highly recyclable or even compostable, emphasizing sustainability. The team believes that this initiative will encourage future designers to approach sustainability in a new light.

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The quadcopter, primarily a proof-of-concept exercise, could potentially be adapted for carrying payloads over short distances or used as a drone “mothership” for air-to-air docking experiments.

Constructed from 5mm thick foamboard sheets, laser-cut, and assembled by hand with hot melt glue, the GFQ is powered by four electric motors running on a 50-volt battery pack, with autonomous flight capabilities.

Its maiden flight took place in July 2023 at the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre, marking a significant achievement for the team and reflecting their commitment to pushing the boundaries of drone design.

The project builds on previous success with large foamboard aircraft, and it has led to the formation of a student society dedicated to developing large-scale foamboard Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

The team is now focused on further optimizing the GFQ’s design, with an eye on potential size expansion while emphasizing innovation and engineering ingenuity. If you are keen, you may learn more about this gigantic unmanned flying machine HERE.

Images: University of Manchester.

via New Atlas.