by David Crane
DropMaster, Inc. has developed a new, expendable airdrop delivery system, called CopterBox. CopterBox is an autorotating, disposable aerial resupply system, and appears to be a superlative, off-the-shelf product. It is specifically designed to be quick to assemble with minimal training, easy to deploy with or without a static line and to be lightweight for a single operator to recover on the ground.
When dropped from an aircraft, CopterBox decelerates a 60 lb payload to about 34 feet per second at sea level. DropMaster’s main focus is simplicity and low cost. Since CopterBox is meant to be expendable (it’s predominantly biodegradable and/or burnable), you can just drop it and forget it. A patented pilot chute delay system allows CopterBox to fall a safe distance away from an aircraft prior to rotor blade deployment.
After the rotor blades deploy and autorotation begins, the steady-state descent is not affected much by wind drift, unlike parachute-based systems. This minimal wind drift has been observed in prototype testing from 200 to 1,500 feet, resulting in tremendous delivery accuracy. And, because it spins at about 400 RPM, CopterBox cuts through trees and always reaches the ground, again, unlike…
parachute-based systems. It is primarily made of high-strength corrugated paper (high-strength cardboard) with minimal metal and nylon parts. These simple materials allow CopterBox to be scalable to customer needs.
With minimal additional cost, a low-drag cardboard fairing can be fitted along with hard points for deployment from UAVs or other aircraft. Pending proper funding, GPS guidance can be achieved for HALO drops where guidance occurs prior to altimeter-triggered rotor blade deployment at a pre-set altitude. CopterBox requires no logistical support or maintenance.
Payload weight is currently limited to 60 to 100 lbs. This allows a single operator to recover the payload and easily dispose of the empty system, so he can quickly carry on with his mission.
If necessary, CopterBox can easily be made from high-strength corrugated plastic sheet (instead of high-strength paper/cardboard), in order to be water-resistant.
Priced at $300 per unit, CopterBox is patented and is the result of a nine year, $450,000 project. It should also be noted that DropMaster, Inc. received a 98% rating by the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center, a.k.a. U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (Natick), on their Phase I efforts on a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant. DropMaster, Inc. was also invited by Natick to participate in a Phase II grant, two years in a row. However, military funding obstacles intervened.
Click here to view CopterBox pictures and video, and read the CopterBox white paper.
Right-click here and select "Save Target As" to download and view the 12.1 megabyte CopterBox video, if you’re using Microsoft Internet Explorer. If you’re using Netscape Communicator, click on "Save As" . Select where you want to save the file
when prompted. The file is in MPEG-1 format and is
easily played on any platform using Windows Media Player or any other video player software.
Here is the lower quality 3.8 megabyte version.
This version is a zipped self-playing executable (.exe)
file. The .zip file is 3.5 megabytes. Use Winzip to
unpack the file. After unzipping, double-click to
Right-click here and select "Save Target As" to download and view the 0.4 megabyte CopterBox brochure, if you’re using Microsoft Internet Explorer. If you’re using Netscape Communicator, click on "Save As".
Click here to download an MP3 (audio file) of the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) G3 Show interview with Chase Warren, DropMaster Inc.’s Director of Engineering.
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