Human Carrier Drone Demonstrator
National Polytechnic Institute of Cambodia
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
In 2018, at the National Polytechnic Institute of Cambodia, a passenger drone project began with Engineering student Vannsith and Mechanical Engineering student Sotheara. These two students decided to work on the project to make an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for Urban Air Mobility (UAM) allowing people to bypass the heavy traffic jams in the most populous city of Cambodia, Phnom Pehn.
The name of the eVTOL demonstrator is the Human Carrier Drone holds one passenger, has a range of 1 km (0.6 miles), a flight time of 10 minutes, has a cruise altitude of 5-6 m (16-19 feet) and has a maximum payload of 60 kg (132 pounds). Due to the Covid-9 pandemic, the students have become very creative with the aircraft by using a student's chair for the pilot's seat and they have had to purchase the electric motors and other components for the aircraft from other countries.
The demonstrator was flight-tested 46 times with sandbags on the seat, to make sure it was safe to fly before a person flew in the aircraft. As of September 22, 2021 there have been 70 test flights with the eVTOL demonstrator. The cost to build the demonstrator was $20,000.00 (USD) and the funding was supplied by their school. According to one article online, this is the first eVTOL aircraft made and flown in Cambodia.
In the future, the students plan to make a larger two passenger drone for Urban Air Mobility which will hold a pilot and passenger. The future two passenger aircraft will switch from aluminium framework to a carbon fiber airframe. Carbon fiber is a very strong material yet lighter than than aluminium. In addition, the project will gradually be transferred from the senior students to newer students. The senior students feel it is their duty to be involved in the training of the younger students and this training will continue to take place until a final production prototype is ready for manufacturing.
The students also foresee the multicopter eVTOL being used for not only Urban Air Mobility but for air cargo, firefighting and more. For example, the challenges for fire fighting drones will be not only have to have the ability to lift heavy fire fighting hoses but to lift them to the correct floor of a building and the spray water on the fire. In addition, the drone must be able to stay steady when the water is turned on and the pressure of the hose kicks the drone backwards, the drone must be able to stay steady in place so it can effectively put out the fire.
- Aircraft type: eVTOL passenger aircraft (and for air cargo, fire fighting and other applications)
- Piloting: 1 pilot
- Cruise speed: Unknown
- Range: 1 km (0.6 miles)
- Flight Time: 10 minutes
- Cruise altitude: 5-6 m (16-19 feet)
- Maximum payload: 60 kg (132 pounds)
- Empty weight: 125 kg
- Propellers: 8 propellers
- Electric Motors: 8 electric motors
- Power source: Batteries
- Fuselage: Aluminium
- Cockpit: Open cockpit
- Landing gear: Fixed landing struts in an X formation
- Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers (or ducted fans) and motors on the aircraft so if one or more propellers (ducted fans) or motors fail, the other working propellers (or ducted fans) and motors can safely land the aircraft.
- National Polytechnic Institute of Cambodia website
- Article: Cambodian students build manned drone to aid community, New York Post, Sept. 21, 2021
- Article: Ambitious aviators fly Kingdom’s skies, The Phnom Penh Post, Sept. 22, 2021
- Article: Cambodian students test fly single-passenger drone, powered by lots of heart, Drone DJ, Sept. 30, 2021
- Video: Cambodian students design manned drone, Reuters, Sept. 21, 2021