This New Supercharged 1000cc Helicopter By Kawasaki Can Lift 440 Pounds

Kawasaki Heavy Industries, known for its powerful motorcycles, has ventured into the world of cargo drones with the K-Racer X1 and its recently unveiled X2 model. These unmanned helicopters leverage a 300-horsepower, supercharged engine borrowed from Kawasaki’s H2R hyperbike, showcasing the company’s diverse portfolio beyond motorcycles. With an annual revenue of around $10 billion, Kawasaki engages in various industries, including trains, ships, submarines, industrial robotics, and aerospace.

The K-Racer X1, introduced in 2020, ingeniously combines a motorcycle engine with a helicopter design. The motorcycle engine, specifically the forced-induction combustion engine from the H2R hyperbike, is renowned for its exceptional power, capable of propelling the H2R at speeds exceeding 400 km/h. The compact form and lightweight nature of this engine make it suitable for aviation applications.

In 2021, Kawasaki tested the K-Racer X1 alongside an autonomous robotic ground crew for efficient loading and unloading. Now, with the introduction of the upsized X2 model, Kawasaki has increased the main rotor’s diameter from 5 m to 7 m, opting for a traditional helicopter airframe with a conventional tail rotor. This modification has doubled the payload capacity, allowing the K-Racer X2 to lift an impressive 200 kg when operating at sea level.

During a recent demonstration at the Fukushima Robot Test Field, the K-Racer team showcased the X2’s capabilities by lifting a 200-kg crate at the end of a 15-m cable. The controlled, sustained flight and automated unloading system demonstrated the drone’s potential applications. Kawasaki envisions using the K-Racer X2 for delivering supplies to mountain cabins, disaster scenarios, and situations where moving heavy cargo is challenging.

The K-Racer X2’s specifications include a range of approximately 100 km and a maximum endurance of around an hour. While the top speed is not specified, the drone’s capabilities in terms of payload capacity and endurance make it a formidable cargo drone. The company claims that this achievement marks the heaviest load ever lifted by a Japanese-designed UAV, further emphasizing its potential for real-world applications.

Kawasaki expresses its commitment to the development of a mass-production version of the K-Racer X2, indicating a belief in the drone’s significant potential for addressing challenges in delivering supplies to remote locations, disaster-stricken areas, and other scenarios where conventional transportation may be impractical.

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