Rotor Technologies has successfully completed the first uncrewed flight test campaign of a full-scale civilian helicopter, a major milestone on the path to autonomous passenger helicopter transportation.
The R220Y, based on an R22, logged over 20 hours of flight time and demonstrated its long-distance flight capability through in-flight testing of radio equipment and cellular LTE communication links. The R22 can normally carry around 170 lbs. of useful payload, but Rotor’s uncrewed configuration can carry 400 lbs. of payload for more than 3 hours.
Rotor is commercializing its autonomy technology by developing the R550X, an uncrewed utility helicopter based on the Robinson R44 Raven II. The R550X will have a payload capacity of 1,212 lbs (550 kg) and is designed for hazardous operations such as firefighting, to combat wildfires, where helicopters drop water or fire retardant to slow the spread of fires and provide aerial logistics for firefighters on the ground.
Rotor's ultimate goal is to certify its technology for passenger flight, which has the potential to revolutionize regional transportation and make it faster and more convenient.