Pterodynamics teamed up with the US Navy to conduct sea trials of the Transwing, a VTOL drone with folding wings, demonstrating its ability to autonomously land on a moving platform. Its folding wings provide exceptional range and payload capacity.
Transwing design, an unusual approach that offers significant advantages. At its core it is a transitional eVTOL airframe with cruise capability, but the way it changes shape between hover and cruise modes makes it one of the most promising drones around.
Its wings fold from fully extended in the horizontal plane to tucked to the sides in the vertical plane, like a swept wing crossed with a slanted one. The four propellers, spaced across the wings, are locked in place and rotate from a completely horizontal position to an upward vertical position when the wings are folded.
The drone is compact on the ground, but has a huge wingspan in the air. There is no additional weight of inclined propulsion systems or additional weight and drag of a lift-cruise structure whose lift propellers are useless in cruise mode. The rear ends of the propulsion nacelles serve as landing points, saving additional weight on the legs or landing gear.
This makes it the lightest VTOL transition glider design with the highest lift and lowest drag, giving it a new level of efficiency that increases payload and range.
The Transwing drone can be packed into a box or crate for transport in a compact VTOL mode, ready to fly. You don’t even need to remove the propellers, the blades fold back into the nacelles when not spinning, meaning you can travel with just two propellers to further improve efficiency and range.
Pterodynamics has built a number of prototypes, the current model being the X‑P4 with a 4m wingspan. It is capable of lifting a 6.8kg payload with a maximum take-off weight of 38kg, and then covering a distance of 111km at an hour’s cruising speed. It can reach a top speed of 185 km/h.