Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. has successfully tested the K-RACER-X2 unmanned demonstration helicopter at the Fukushima Robot Test Field’s Namie Runway.
The test demonstrated the useful load capacity of 200kg, reportedly the largest ever flown by an unmanned aircraft developed in Japan. The K-RACER will be used to help solve social issues through its ability to haul heavy cargo loads that cannot be transported with standard drones.
Basic Specifications for the K-RACER-X2
- Main Rotor Diameter: 7m
- Maximum Payload: 200kg at 0m elevation, 100kg at 3,100m elevation
- Powerplant: Reciprocating Engine
- Fuel Type: High-Octane Gasoline
- Range: 100km or more
- Endurance: 1 hour or more
Despite declining transport capacities in Japan’s mountainous regions brought about by a shrinking workforce and other factors, demand is strong for deliveries to mountain huts as well as for the maintenance and renewal of various public infrastructure in these areas.
As a result, mountainous regions face the risk of not being able to maintain the supply-demand balance. Against this backdrop, there is demand for new distribution services to meet transport-related demand, as well as safe distribution networks for work in dangerous and harsh locations and in the event of natural disasters.
In order to solve these issues, Kawasaki aims to serve unmanned and/or less human cargo transport services by utilizing K-RACER.
While continuing with the project commissioned by Ina City, Nagano Prefecture, which entails real-world demonstration tests involving cargo delivery flights to mountain cabins, Kawasaki will conduct verification tests of an automated loading and unloading system that requires no human workers in order to establish seamless cargo transport services. In addition, the company will devote increased efforts toward the development of a mass-production version of the aircraft.