Delivery drones are now capable of delivering supplies to marines in combat, allowing emergency food and ammunition deliveries in a short amount of time. The autonomous drones can carry 60 pounds (~ 27 kilos) of cargo and fly up to six miles (~9.5 km) away.
The delivery drones are a part of the Tactical Resupply Unmanned Aircraft System’s (TRUAS) $225,000 competition. TRUAS ran a competition last year for the production of an autonomous drone capable of making such deliveries. Six companies competed for the prize money by completing various flights and tasks. SURVICE Engineering won the competition receiving $100,000, Chartis Federal came in second receiving $75,000, and Autonodyne came in third, receiving $50,000. The other three companies competing included AirBuoyant, Bell Textron, and Pacific Aerospace Consulting.
Col. John Neville, U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical UAS (PMA-263) program manager, said, “We learned a lot about where the industry is in terms of design maturity and what our requirements need to be. It was great to have Marines, our acquisition leads and industry in one place to get a sense of where we need to be and what the next step is for the TRUAS effort.”
SURVICE Engineering won the competition with its TRV-150 quadcopter styled octocopter capable of a maximum range of 50 KM without a payload or 12 KM with a payload of 150 pounds (~68 kilos). If the TRV-150 meets requirements, deliveries could start as soon as the 2021 financial year.
TRUAS Team Lead Christina Petrow states, “The fly-off prize challenge has been a great rapid acquisition effort that allowed us to evaluate the existing technologies within a short period. We have a better sense of what is available, affordable, and viable for the Marine Corps.”