World's First Unmanned Commercial Heavy-Lift Helicopter Takes Flight

The K-MAX TITAN carries up to 2,722 kg (6,000 lb) of cargo and can operate at all hours.
Chris Young

Kaman Air Vehicles, a division of Kaman Aerospace Corporation, announced the maiden flight of the world's first heavy-lift unmanned helicopter for the commercial market, the K-MAX TITAN, last week in a press statement.

Kaman is known for its unmanned military cargo K-Max helicopter, which has been flying supplies to US forces in Afghanistan for roughly a decade. Now, the company is releasing a commercial version to the market.

"With a focus on enabling safety and operational efficiency, the proprietary K-MAX TITAN system will redefine the helicopter external lift market by increasing future mission capabilities in any location and any type of weather," the company said in its release.

The K-MAX uses a low-maintenance counter-rotating rotor system designed for maximum lift efficiency, allowing it to carry up to 2,722 kg (6,000 lb) of cargo with a cable and hook system.

It's interesting to see a new unmanned heavy-lift helicopter released on the verge of what many are calling the delivery drone revolution. Though logistics drones such as EHang's 200kg (440 lb) capacity AAV point to the future, the short-to-medium haul machines can't currently compete with the K-Max's 1,850-km (1,150-mile) range.

TITAN system enables unmanned missions in harsh environments

With the new TITAN system, the K-Max can run at all times, even in adverse conditions and in risky environments.

The system allows operators to run unmanned missions that would otherwise be dangerous for humans. As robots don't sleep, the K-MAX TITAN can also run repetitive routes and save operators costs on personnel.

"We are excited to reach this major milestone on K-MAX TITAN," said Roger Wassmuth, Senior Director of Business Development for Kaman's Air Vehicles division.

"Watching this capability take to the skies and knowing that we are going to solve some of the toughest challenges for our commercial and military customers," he continued.

As per Kaman Air Vehicles, the TITAN system will be available as a retrofit for existing K-MAX helicopters and will be included as an option for newly-bought choppers.

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