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Kawasaki’s Rugged Unmanned VTOL Successfully Reaches 2,700 Feet Above Sea Level

Kawasaki is using its expertise in a very wide area of mobility applications, and one of most exciting ones is the unmanned VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) called the K-Racer, aiming to become a rugged, resilient cargo aircraft for mountainous areas. The most recent demonstration, held at a national ski resort, proved that it’s on the right track.
The K-Racer conducted a successful flight demonstration at a ski resort in Japan 6 photos
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The Japanese giant is using the Ninja H2R motorcycle’s supercharged engine to power an autonomous version of an innovative helicopter with a compound design, meant for cargo operation in hard-to-reach locations. The K-Racer is six-foot-tall (1.9 meters), and its distinctive configuration with propellers on both sides, instead of a tail rotor, in addition to a main rotor and main wings.

On one hand, the wings help reduce some of the load on the main rotor, during forward flight, which enables the K-Racer to hit greater speeds, compared to conventional helicopters. On the other hand, the propellers on both sides help counter the main rotor’s torque, generating thrust for forward movement.
As a result, this VTOL should be able to carry an impressive payload of over 440 pounds (200 kg), at over 9,800 feet (3,000 meters), over long distances. But, prior to this, two prototypes with a smaller payload of 220 pounds (100 kg) will be tested at gradual heights.

The most recent demonstration was carried out at the Ina Ski Resort in Ina City Nagano Prefecture, where the K-Racer proved that it can handle high altitudes of more than 2,700 feet (850 meters) above sea level. This location was chosen because the unmanned VTOL is meant to replace helicopters for carrying supplies to mountain huts, in the future.

The Japanese company said that it also intends to reduce the aircraft’s carbon footprint in the future, by adding a power unit. The test version of the K-Racer was developed by Aerospace Systems Company, powered by a motorcycle supercharged engine.

After the VTOL prototype will be able to reach the intended height of 9,800 feet, its payload will also be doubled, for future mass production.


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