There’s a new drone company in China, and its already making its mark. Founded in 2016, drone manufacturing firm Tengoen has already made significant inroads in the military market. Now the company is working to bring that technology to the commercial sector.
“In the cargo and delivery space, Tengoen is already at work building an eight-engine drone with a wingspan of more than 137 feet to carry a payload of 20 tons payload up to 4,660 miles,” reports Popular Science. “That’s akin to a medium-sized manned cargo plane.”
“The carbon-fiber, double-bodied drone carries the payload module between the two fuselages (looking a bit like a robotic baby brother to the Scaled Composites Stratolaunch),” says Popular Science. “It is being built at Tengoen’s facility in Chengdu, and it’s supposedly taking flight in 2020.”
Tengoen already has the technical expertise to get a large and heavy drone into the air. Search the company name and you will mostly find reviews of its military drones, including its flagship TB-001, the “Twin Tailed Scorpion.” Tengoen unveiled its family of military drones in September last year. This “new generation” of Chinese drones are armed reconnaissance vehicles: the TB-001 is capable of carrying 8- 100 pound anti-tank missiles.
While the military market is lucrative, like many drone manufacturers, Tengoen plans to go after the bigger fish – the commercial and civilian market. They’ve tweaked and altered the design of their military vehicles to carry more benign cargo, and the company says that the drone can be customized for specific missions.
At that size, it isn’t likely to be used by retail outlets like Amazon any time soon. But the vehicle could have major impact for civilian applications like search and rescue, fire fighting or emergency response. The drone could be used for refueling aircraft, for example, or carrying a payload of fire retardant. Not something you’ll see on your doorstep anytime soon – but something that could provide real benefit to civilian communities nonetheless.