Airbus Cargo Drone Challenge: 1st Place – $50,000.00


In this challenge, we are looking to identify the next generation of multi-purpose drones. We are seeking a safe, easy-to-operate and affordable drone solution which can be used for many different civil applications.

The Ultimate Managed Hosting Platform

The solution must allow for simple reconfiguration or adaptation, as it will be used – safely and effectively – for things such as agriculture monitoring, infrastructure inspection, cargo delivery, or humanitarian missions.

In a first engagement, we ask you to bring in your ideas and design a solution focusing mainly on cargo delivery drone in a medical use case.

Airbus Group promotes cutting-edge technologies and scientific excellence in all areas. The goal is to contribute to global progress and deliver aeronautics and space solutions for the challenges posed by such societal issues as environmental protection, mobility, defense and security, and safety.

This challenge, concentrating on the aircraft configuration, is the first step in a process that will lead to market readiness of the drone system. It will be followed by a hack-a-thon tackling the electronics and applications setup later this year including Mission Management Software, Ground Control Solutions, and User Software/Apps.

This is your chance to work alongside Airbus Group and to make your drone ideas fly with Airbus technology. But keep in mind: While your design should target the cargo use case specifically, the aircraft configuration should be versatile enough to be used in different contexts.

Join our Community. Face the challenge. Make your ideas fly.

Create the next generation autonomous air vehicle and help save lives, together with Local Motors and Airbus Group.

Design an innovative VTOL aircraft using general aircraft design criteria for small scale cargo transport.

The Problem:

As technology advances so do opportunities. The global use of drones is ever-growing, however commercial and civil-use drones do not yet play the important role they should. The notion that autonomous aircraft are restricted, via cost and law, to government and military uses is vastly diminishing, and civil drones have become the next frontier.

Imagine sending a vital piece of hardware from your distribution center directly to your manufacturing facility across town in 15 minutes without a truck driver. Or flying in life-saving medicine and vaccines to remote areas of the world without needing any highway infrastructure.

Other civil drone systems have had marginal success, but not with the bandwidth we intend to use. This project will create a new standard of parcel delivery, humanitarian missions, and health care capabilities for improved quality of life for everyone.

Inspiration (Example):

Imagine a doctor has the capability to deliver desperately needed medical supplies, such as urgently needed drugs, lab samples, or banked human blood from one hospital to another.

The doctor places the goods into the cargo drone that is to be designed in this challenge and the drone is on its way to another hospital or laboratory. Consider use-cases such as regular trips between several hospitals and a centralized special laboratory or a scenario around disaster response or humanitarian aid in developing nations.


The aircraft shall be designed for vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), and efficient forward flight; a hybrid design created through the merging of design elements from both multi-rotors and fixed-wing aircraft. As such, the aircraft shall include at least 4 rotors (lifting motors / rotors). All propulsion shall be directly driven, fixed-pitch propellers, and the total number of motors shall not exceed 10. The aircraft will operate in two flight modes, a hover mode for takeoff and landing, and a forward flight mode for efficient travel. At least one motor must be used for forward thrust in the fixed-wing flight mode.

While keeping in mind that the payload concept should be modular – i.e. suitable for cargo transport, mounting sensors or other applications – the aircraft shall be designed to weigh less than 25 kg with a single, fixed and internal cargo bay that accepts a payload from 3 to 5 kg. The aircraft shall be able to accommodate a minimum payload dimension of 450 x 350 x 200 mm. All payloads shall be restrained within the payload bay to avoid shift of the payload during flight, regardless of size or weight. The cargo in the cargo bay shall be easily accessible and interchangeable and impossible to jettison in flight. The cargo payload bay should be able to accommodate payloads smaller than that through a fixture that is to be designed. The cruise speed of the aircraft in forward flight should be at least 80 km/h, and maximum speed shall not exceed 194 km/h. The power system shall be purely electric, and energy storage will be in the form of a off-the shelf rechargeable battery.

The aircraft design shall avoid the use of tilting wings or tilting motors / rotors for the sake of simplicity. This helps minimize manufacturing costs, and reduces the number of potential points of failure. Along the same lines, variable pitch propellers shall be avoided.

It should be clear that the intent of this aircraft is for medical cargo delivery, humanitarian missions, and other civilian applications. There should be no design concessions made for military use, i.e. no weapons, armor, or countermeasures.

The most successful entrants will keep simplicity in mind, and their designs will be optimized for ease of use, including maintenance, a quick as possible turnaround time between flights, swappable batteries, and ease of cargo loading / unloading. Designs should also consider the ability of the aircraft to operate safely in all states of flight, including weather conditions of wind up to 10 m/s, a temperature range of -30 to 50 degrees C, and moderate rain.