Project CONDOR was an 18-month, multi-disciplinary technology research project focused on a defined set of enabling technologies proposed for a heavy lift cargo drone.
Funded by a Defence Innovation Hub (DIH) grant, the objective was to determine their, and hence the overall concept's, feasibility for the role it has been proposed for with the Australian Armed Forces.
CONDOR was pitched to Defence as a supplementary materiel autonomus cargo platform able to transport payloads of of up to 150kg over distnaces of 200kms.
The Australian Army contracted Amatek to review the potential of the concept, based on the outcomes of research into several key technologies, including:
- A custom coaxial (dual counter-rotating propeller) propulsion systems.
- COTS and custom electric motors suitable to the above propulsion system.
- COTS high-energy density, rechargeable batteries.
- Custom next-gen hydrogen fuel cells and high pressure hydrogen storage vessels.
- Custom autonomous flight control and navigation systems.
Additionally, we were tasked with the following:
- Investigating military and non-military (e.g. humanitarian, medical) applications and market opportunities.
- Investigating regulatory regimes in target markets (eg AU CASA, US FAA and EU EASA) and developing a compliance program, including recommendations regarding engaging with global standards and industry development groups.
- Developing a business plan that addressed strategic partnerships, engineering activities, resources, milestones and capital costs required to get a prototype to Technical Readiness Level (TRL) 9.
3D concept rendering
We engaged with a team of leading research partners to fulfill the requirements of this research project, comprising:
- Australian Aerospace Industries (aeronautical systems consulting)
- University of New South Wales, (UNSW) School of Mechanical Design (CFD simulation and analysis)
- Sydney University start-up, Gelion (battery and fuel cell consultants)
- Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Centre for Robotics (autonomous systems consulting)
In 2018, we presented the Australian Department of Defence with an 800+ page Technology Concept Evaluation Report, in which we presented our reseaerch, as well as our conclusions pertaining to:
- The feasibility of the key technologies researched, and associated issues and opportunities.
- Regulatory issues in the target market investigated.
- Funding required for further R&D, the develoment of a functional prototype, approval process risks and risk mitigation, and technology commercialisation.
Comprehensive concept evaluation report