The disposable drones are made from cheap plywood and have enough space to carry over 700 kg. These gliders are essentially wooden boxes with electronics inside. (Image credit: Logistic Gliders)

 

I am hoping they release the designs for this. Seems like a fun DIY project. Definitely looks like one.

 

Most people still aren’t comfortable with the idea of delivery drones, but they could make a great impact on delivering supplies for the military. The US military is currently testing delivery drones that can carry supplies over long distances and then be tossed out after each use. Called the Tactical Air Delivery or TACAD, these drones made of cheap plywood are by Logistics Gliders, Inc. Recently, the gliders successfully completed a series of tests with US Marines.

 

The company is working on two different gliders: The LG-1K, which can carry roughly 300 kg, and the bigger LG-2K, which can carry over 700kg and is currently being tested by the US Marines. According to the company, each glider is basically a wooden box. It has some electronics and some servos that make up the autopilot and gas springs that help the wings deploy, but that’s it. Most of the vehicle is weather-resistant plywood that only uses about 400 parts, including all the screws. Since it’s not meant to be reused, the glider can be made for a small amount of money.

 

While the gliders can fly autonomously or via radio control, they have to be launched from a larger aircraft. Depending on how much space is available, the glider will either belly land or deploy a parachute for a nose landing. And since they fly at low altitudes and don’t need an airfield like landing zone, it gives them more flexibility. The unmanned aircraft is also ideal for flying into urban environments, small clearings, and through forest or jungle canopies.

 

“Gliders dropped from a cargo aircraft could greatly outdistance any ground-based unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for cargo logistics since the actual cargo delivery distance is the sum of the carrier aircraft's range plus the glider's range," wrote principal investigator Sarigul-Klijn in an email. "A carrier aircraft such as the C-17 can easily fly 2,000 nautical miles and back. Although most airdrop systems including parachutes are reused during training, all airdrop systems are expended during combat missions because it is almost impossible to retrieve them.”

 

Logistics Gliders will continue running tests with the Marines. If proven to be successful, it could be a more affordable way for the military to deliver supplies across various sites. And though the larger glider is currently being tested, the smaller version still has enough room to deliver a days’ worth of supplies to a small unit of Marines. And since multiple gliders can be launched from a single aircraft, it makes it possible to resupply units in different locations or send a lot of supplies to one location.

 

 

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