Many drone makers are going small, developing pint-sized UAVs packed with technology. But others are focusing on counting on large cargo carrying craft.
CGTN’s Mike Walter has more on such drone.
At nearly 12 meters long, China’s brand new AT200 drone is large enough to deliver a small car. And with the aircraft’s speed and weight-limit, that may be possible: it can fly more than 2,100 kilometers at a time, cruise at around 313 kilometers per hour, and carry 1.5 tons of cargo.
Its second public flight was earlier this month in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, where designers showed off what they call the drone’s “one-click landing.” Click one button, and the unmanned aerial vehicle flies itself.
There are, however, some important features still missing.
“In the future, the drone has to be equipped with an air traffic response device, so that air traffic controllers will know exactly where the airplane is located in real time,” according to chief designer Ma Xiaoping.
Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences spent 17 months developing the AT200, transforming it from an ordinary small plane to an unmanned cargo aircraft. Though impressive, the drone is not yet ready to roll down just any runway. It requires a specific set of conditions to operate, meaning it cannot yet take off and land at airports with runways built made out of dirt or grass, and those at high altitudes.
DJI, based in Shenzhen, China, has achieved big success by selling drones mostly online. Now, it’s opened up a handful of brick and mortar stores in the U.S., including this one near Denver, Colorado.
Nonetheless, the AT200 could soon take to the skies and join delivery drones from companies like Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com. It’s working with the Chinese Academy of Sciences to test unmanned drones capable of carrying packages and other goods.
The hope is to fly these vehicles into remote parts of China, lowering the high price of goods in far flung locations like Xinjiang.
What’s more, goods produced in these remote regions could more easily get to bigger cities. And as transportation costs go down, so do the prices consumers pay.
“We are working with local governments and farmers, and have already set up scores of production bases for fruit and other agricultural produce around the country,” according to Liu Qiangdong, CEO and chairman of JD.com. “We want to build competitive agricultural product brands in each region. Branded products sell at a premium and when farmers earn more money, they are more willing to grow safer and higher-quality produce.”
This year’s “China Agriculture and High-tech Fair” featured nearly 80 drones designed for farming applications. Pesticide sprayers, which automatically detect how much pesticide is needed then spray with accuracy down to millimeter-levels, received much of the attention.
Ryan English discusses Chinese commercial drone tech
At nearly 12 meters long, China’s brand new AT200 drone is large enough to deliver a small car. And with the aircrafts speed and weight-limit, that’s actually possible; it can fly more than 2,100 kilometers at a time, cruises at around 313 kilometers per hour, and can carry 1.5 tons of cargo. Ryan English, president and co-founder of FLYMOTION Unmanned Systems, discusses this and other Chinese drone innovations with CGTN’s Mike Walter