Russian ‘Hulk’ Drone SKYF Goes to CES 2018

January 09, 2018      

SKYF is an unmanned aerial carrier for vertical take-off and landing. It allows the development of unmanned aerial vehicles of various modifications for the execution of various tasks, from cargo logistics and crop dusting to fire extinguishing. At the moment, the carrying capacity of the platform is up to 400 lbs., its flight range is up to 350 km (with a carrying capacity of 120 lb.), and its flight duration is up to 8 hours (with a carrying capacity of 120 lb.).

The SKYF aerodynamic design is based on the separation of the functions of the lifting and steering propeller screws. The internal combustion engine (ICE) directly rotates the large fixed-pitch screws and creates a lifting force, the auxiliary electric control screws enable platform orientation by yaw, pitch and roll.

This makes it possible to use the ICE energy directly without the expensive electric circuitry of the series hybrid, which significantly improves the efficiency of the platform compared with multicopters and gives it unique technical characteristics; as well as making the frame considerably cheaper compared to the helicopter design.

SKYF Agro business model

The key business model of SKYF Agro is based on the sale of flight hours. The preliminary cost of one flight hour is 150 USD. This is ten times cheaper than a helicopter hour.

In developing SKYF, engineers started with the needs of the market, not just the desire to create a “fashionable” device. They interviewed logistics and agribusiness companies, made a list of the technical characteristics required and created exactly the kind of air freight platform that businesses need to execute their tasks. SKYF engineers developed a unique patented aerodynamic design and a new mathematical control model, equipment and software.

One of the key features of SKYF is its ease and safety of use. The platform has a standardized size of 5.2 x 2.2 m. Two machines can be placed in a standard 20ft cargo container. Once unloaded, a SKYF can be prepared for flight in 10 minutes. All flight assignment setting operations are fully automated, the flight assignment itself is protected by a cryptographic signature and approved by the central dispatch centre.

As a result, users can ground the drone in potentially hazardous areas and directions. The platform has an autonomous parachute rescue system for both device and cargo, an obstacle bypassing system and high positioning accuracy.

At present, SKYF is focused on three key markets – treatment of fields with plant protection products, cargo logistics in hard-to-reach areas and forest protection (pest control and fire fighting). However, considering how versatile the platform is, it is hard to predict what areas and markets will see most demand for it over the next few years.

The developer of the SKYF platform is the engineering company ARDN Technology, created by a group of Russian investors. The main development office of the company is located in the city of Kazan.