Young scientists at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have been tasked to design and develop a new class of load-carrying unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is capable of operating from high-altitude bases for undertaking logistic operations along the Himalayan frontier.
The ‘high-altitude operating, vertical take-off and landing drone’, driven by eight propellers, will have the ability to be launched from altitudes of up to 15,000 feet and the capacity to airlift up to 50 kg of cargo over a distance of 10 km.
The project is being undertaken by the DRDO Young Scientist Laboratories (DYSL), a recently formed group of five specialised research establishments where all scientists, including the directors, are required to be below 35 years of age.
Located at Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai, their core focus areas are artificial intelligence, cognitive technologies, smart materials, asymmetric technologies, and quantum technologies, respectively.
In a request for proposal issued earlier this month seeking development partners, DYSL has defined its requirement for an octocopter (eight-engined UAV) with a carbon-composite airframe having a gross all-up weight, including payload, of less than 80 kg.
The octocopter is required to have a payload capability of 50 kg at mean sea level and above 20 kg at extreme altitude, and be able to operate at temperatures up to minus 20 degrees Celsius.