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Biggest civilian drone designed for couriers
Chinese engineers soon will have a world-record-holding product to offer to express delivery companies: the largest civilian drone.
Engineers at Beihang Unmanned Aircraft System Technology are designing a drone that will be able to fly 1,500 kilometers
carrying 1 metric ton of cargo.
They plan to finalize their design before year's end and construct a prototype in 2019 for test flights scheduled to start in 2020.
Mass production will begin if test flights are successful, and a drone-based delivery network is expected to take shape around 2025.
It will be 11.9 meters long, with a wingspan of 19.6 m, and have a maximum takeoff weight of 3.6 tons. The craft will be powered by
two engines and have 16 cubic meters of cargo space.
The company expects to sign a strategic partnership agreement on Thursday with logistics company Cainiao, which is controlled by
Chinese e-retailing giant Alibaba Group, to jointly develop and market cargo drones.
The world's largest drone is now the United States' Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk, a military surveillance craft that is
14.5 m long and with a wingspan of 39.9 m and a maximum takeoff weight of nearly 15 tons.
China has been the world's largest express service market for four years. Couriers delivered more than 40 billion packages
in the country in 2017, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
(article and photo abstracted from China daily)