Meet VertiKUL, a student-designed prototype at the cutting edge of delivery drone technology
Unmanned aircraft may one day be used to deliver packages to your back patio, important d ocuments to your lawyer or even vital organs to hospital for transplantation. Although the legal framework for ‘delivery drones’ is not yet in place, the technology – as three students of engineering science at KU Leuven show – nearly is.
Master’s students Cyriel Notteboom, Menno Hochstenbach and Maarten Verbandt were given an unusual assignment for their master’s thesis: build a fully functioning drone. A year of intensive work later, VertiKUL made its maiden flight. The unmanned aircraft can pick up a package and deliver it to a destination up to 30 kilometres away.
While VertiKUL is not the first delivery drone around, it does include some notable improvements compared to its older competitors.
“The first drones were designed like small helicopters. This allowed for exceptional precision but limited range and speed due to high energy needs,” says master’s student of engineering science and project member Cyriel Notteboom. “In our prototype, we combined the high speed of an airplane with the take-off and landing capacities of a helicopter.”