Aug 3, 2016

The QuadRKT is half-quadcopter, half-missile, and built for speed

Posted by in categories: drones, engineering

Half quad-copter and 1/2 missile.

The design of small UAVs usually falls into one of two categories: the cruciform quadcopter (with extra arms added as necessary) and the fixed-wing glider (such as early iterations of Google’s delivery drones). However, there’s still room for innovation in this market, as demonstrated by the QuadRKT: a quadcopter drone with a rocket-shaped fuselage that can hovers vertically, but also switch to a horizontal orientation when it needs to go really fast.

The QuadRKT’s basic design has been around for a few years, but its creators are now looking to raise funds on Kickstarter for further development. The team originally developed prototypes of the design (then known as the XQ-139 family of aircraft) for DARPA’s Experimental Vertical Takeoff and Landing program. The US agency reportedly declared the QuadRKT “too risky” to build, and the drone’s creators — a team of engineering and aerospace experts — are now trying to make their design a commercial reality by themselves.

There are a lot of big claims being made by QuadRKT, particularly that the design has the “lowest drag coefficient of any quadcopter out there” and that the smallest model has set unofficial speed records of 133 miles per hour. That’s certainly faster than some of the speediest custom-built quadcopters we’ve seen (these can reportedly reach speeds of around 86 mph), but it’s worth remembering that these claims are unverified. It’s also disappointing that QuadRKT’s videos never seem to show the craft in sustained horizontal flight, or its maneuverability — how it handles turns, loops, at high speed.

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