The popularity of drones has been steadily increasing over the last several years. Applications have been numerous, from high resolution photography to package delivery. Amazon began experimenting with drones in 2013 to deliver orders to their customers, and after going through more than two dozen designs appears to be months away from launching this service under the name “Prime Air.” One limitation to this service is that packages delivered via drone must weigh less than five pounds.
A recent feature at New Civil Engineer Magazine’s website discusses a new partnership in the United Kingdom between Plextek, an engineering and design firm, and Griff Aviation, an unmanned aerial systems (UAS) manufacturer. Their goal is to install micro radars and sensors on heavy lifting drones for reliable and precise flight control at construction sites.
How much weight can a heavy lifting drone lift?
A drone cannot begin to compete with the lifting capabilities of a mobile crane, but models being developed at Griff Aviation will be capable of lifting and transporting payloads weighing up to 550 pounds. This will make it possible to transport building equipment and materials across challenging terrains that include mountains and forests. Technology from Plextek will provide “sense and avoid” navigation to detect power lines, buildings, bridges, vegetation, and other objects in front of and underneath the drone from up to 200 feet away. Flight can be programmed at a predefined height at any time of day.
Plextek and Griff Aviation are currently conducting on-site trials in Norway. Actual work for these drones is planned for by an energy provider in Japan and power line company in Australia.