Dronamics to Debut ‘Black Swan’- Pilotless Cargo Drone in Early 2023

Defence Industry

Sofia:  European manufacturing company Dronamics will soon debut the Black Swan — a pilotless drone certified to carry freight in the European Union starting in 2023. The concept is the brainchild of Bulgarian brothers Konstantin and Svilen Rangelov.

Speaking to the media, the latter said the pair started looking into the market in 2013 when Amazon began dabbling in drone deliveries. However, the brothers saw logistical difficulties in sending small drones, like Amazon’s, to deliver directly to homes and believed there was a better way of getting personal packages to each customer.

In Bulgaria, Rangelov said cargo is flown into Sophia, offloaded onto a big truck, driven hundreds of miles, and then offloaded onto a smaller van that delivers the package to individual sites. The brothers saw the big truck as a costly step: “We said let’s map the size of the vehicle to fit exactly what you can fit in a delivery van in the last mile,'” Rangelov said. “This way we get to cut a step from the process.”

The resulting product — which is about half the capacity of a U-Haul moving van — can offer customers fast and low-cost freight transport, enabling same-day delivery with the help of some 3,000 airstrips across Europe.

Many of the said airstrips are closer to customers than the main distribution centres, making them even more convenient for same-day deliveries, according to Rangelov. Moreover, the design helps Dronamics differentiate itself from other cargo drone operators that typically fly lighter freight over shorter distances.

According to the company, the plane reduces costs by up to 50% compared to competing cargo aircraft, partially due to its carbon fiber materials, making it favourable for the middle-mile market.

The Black Swan can cruise up to 20,000 feet, fly across 2,500 kilometres (1,550 miles), and carry a maximum of 350 kilograms (770 pounds). The range can connect cities like Austin and New York City or Dubai and New Delhi.

“It can cover the continental US, the diagonal in the Caribbean, the South China Sea, and all of Europe,” Rangelov told Insider. “So the size fits neatly into the global geography.”

Powering the routes is a single-propeller Rotax engine built by Austrian company BRP-Rotax, which is owned by Bombardier Recreational Products.

Rangelov further explained that the plane will not only carry single pallets of one item, but also individual packages, allowing it to also enter the e-commerce, low-density market. In addition to its carrying capabilities, the Black Swan can land on short runways — including unpaved — thanks to its fixed wing, so it can access small, isolated communities easier than other drones.