One of the Most Exciting Cargo Drones Comes From Switzerland

The Arero2 is a tilt-wing eVTOL designed to operate as a heavy-duty cargo drone 7 photos
Photo: Dufour Aerospace
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With so many drone manufacturers on the market, the general public might be less familiar with Dufour Aerospace. Still, this is a name worth remembering. The Aero2, a hybrid-electric autonomous drone made in Switzerland, sports an atypical tilt-wing design and could turn out to be one of the most successful cargo hybrid aircraft operating in the US.
The largest civilian drone purchase in US history took place at the end of 2022, linking an American drone solutions provider to a Swiss drone manufacturer. At that time, Spright, the drone division of Air Methods, agreed to buy 40 units of the Aero2, with the option of adding 100 more. According to both parties, this was the biggest purchase in America's civilian unmanned aerial vehicle sector.

Another confirmation of this cargo drone's huge potential came recently in the form of significant government funding. The aviation company will receive almost $3 million (CHF 2.5 million), the maximum grant available under the Suisse Accelerator program. Innosuisse organized the program, the Swiss Confederation's innovation agency and 52 other companies were also selected together with Dufour.

Dufour is a young company founded in 2017. Still, the team behind it has an extensive background in commercial helicopter operations, specializing in the challenging missions that are carried out in harsh environments. This is why this Swiss manufacturer wanted to develop a heavy-duty cargo drone with high-load and long-distance flight capabilities that could handle mountainous and rural settings.

This Swiss-made drone would be versatile enough to also perform SAR (search and rescue) tasks by adding special cameras and infrared equipment and surveillance operations for extended areas.

The Aero2 combines a conventional tail (fitted with a downward vertical stabilizer) with a tilt-wing configuration, with four propellers on top of the wing. This unusual design was inspired by the CL-84 tilt-wing aircraft developed by Canadair half a century ago. Its main benefits are a higher payload capacity and a longer range. The VTOL configuration adds the benefit of combining vertical take-offs and landings with the possibility of landing like a conventional airplane in case of emergency.

The Dufour specialists also opted for a hybrid propulsion system instead of a purely electric one to enhance the benefits of a tilt-wing configuration even more. The dedicated hybrid-electric powertrain promises a flight time of up to three hours, compared to only one hour in the case of a 100% electric alternative.

The future cargo drone will be able to cover nearly 250 miles (400 km) with a maximum payload of 44 lb (20 kg) in the long-range configuration. Dufour also claims that its innovative aircraft will transport cargo five times faster than a car but with a similar cost per kilometer and the added benefit of accessing hard-to-reach areas. The Aero2 will enter commercial service in 2025.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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