The Return of the Gyrocopter

Airial Robotics’ GT20 Gyrotrak Commercial UAV revives gyrocopter technology for the drone market. Photo by Neesa Sweet.

Airial Robotics is bringing back the gyrocopter. The Hamburg, Germany-based company displayed one on the floor of the Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas last week.

“We’re the only one on the floor right now that have a gyrocopter-based model, said William Cromarty, director of business development. “The technology almost died out in the 1920s, and we’re basically reviving it,” he explained, pointing to the GT20 Gyrotrak Commercial UAV on display.

“There are a lot of safety benefits to gyrocopters and a lot of efficiency benefits,” he said. “Basically, the key element is that the top rotor actually is unpowered in flight. It autorotates on its own and the thrust comes from the forward-facing propellers. We’re more efficient because you don’t have to tilt forward. We stay perfectly level during flight.” He noted that the drone is capable of more than a two-hour flight time because of this efficiency.

The drone’s wide range of uses, Cromarty said, ranges from inspections to surveillance, mapping, and border and perimeter security. The company expects to do a significant amount of medical delivery in Germany next year, and the drone’s ability to fly at almost 100 miles per hour means a tissue sample can be flown to a laboratory and analyzed while the patient is still on an operating table. The drone also will be delivering cargo in India at 16,000 feet and below-freezing conditions.