11May

For the past few weeks, we have been comparing the gyrochute with various vehicles. Most of the vehicles that we discussed function very differently from the gyrochute.

In this blog post, we are going to discuss a vehicle that functions quite similarly to the gyrochute... and it is called the Copterbox!

History of Copterbox

Cossack Bivouac, 1813, Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Europeana.
Cossack Bivouac, 1813, Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Europeana.

Parachutes and helicopters are usually used to deliver supplies by air. In the combat zone, the parachutes tend to leave the supplies hanging on the trees. Helicopters, on the other hand, are just impossible to hide. They are big and loud, risking exposure to the enemies. 

So, how can these supplies be delivered without alerting the enemies?

In the late 1990s, Chase Warren and his teammates at DropMaster Inc came up with the Copterbox as a solution to this problem. The Copterbox is an air-deployable vehicle that is used to deliver emergency supplies to remote areas. It is combat-proven by the US Special Operation Forces in the Afghanistan mountains. 

How Does The Copterbox Work


Deployed Copterbox | Image credit: Defense Review
Deployed Copterbox | Image credit: Defense Review

The Copterbox is air-deployable and can be deployed at any altitude. However, the drop zone accuracy improves when the aircraft from which it is deployed is closer to the drop zone.

A small drogue parachute is deployed when the Copterbox leaves the aircraft. The chute has three functions:

  • It orients the box in the proper descent position

  • It deploys the wings

  • It assures that the centre of gravity is kept near the bottom of the box during descent

The Copterbox will autorotate when the wings are deployed and safely land on the ground.

We did say that the Copterbox is quite similar to the gyrochute. So, what are the similarities?

Similarities Of Gyrochute Copterbox

Autorotation

autorotation
autorotation

The gyrochute and the Copterbox both rely on autorotation, a condition during which a helicopter's main rotor is driven only by aerodynamic forces with no power from the engine. Just like the helicopters, autorotation allows the gyrochute and the Copterbox to safely land. The kinetic energy stored in the rotating blades is used to decrease the rate of descent and make a soft landing.

Unpowered

Power source
Power source

The gyrochute and Copterbox do not need power to operate. Due to this, both vehicles can only descend to the ground.

UAV

The gyrochute and the Copterbox are a type of UAV. UAV is an aircraft that can navigate without a human pilot on board. 

Small Size

The gyrochute and the Copterbox are comparatively small in size. The wings of the gyrochute and the Copterbox are both folded down pre-flight so they do not take a lot of space.

Although the Copterbox is quite similar to the gyrochute, there are still differences between the two.

Differences of Gyrochute and Copterbox

Use case

The Copterbox is used to deliver perishable payloads, such as medical and food supplies. Meanwhile, the gyrochute is used to deliver sensitive payloads including, telecommunications equipment and electronics.

Design

Copterbox structure | Image credit: Defense Review
Copterbox structure | Image credit: Defense Review

The Copterbox is shaped in a hexagonal tubular box made of biodegradable, waxed, heavy cardboard. Therefore, you can just drop the Copterbox and leave it. 

It has a hexagonal wireframe at the top and bottom for strength and to allow attachment of the wings. At the top of the box, three aerodynamic folding wings are attached to the wireframe. These wings are folded down flush with the box during transport to the drop zone.

CopterBox has a honeycomb cardboard crush-pad on the bottom of the box to minimize the landing impact.

Meanwhile, the Gyrochute is a lightweight composite frame with engineered crash structures and the possibility of reuse. The gyrochute’s rigid structure provides better strength to control and stabilise the vehicle during descent.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the gyrochute and the Copterbox are a type of small UAV that rely on autorotation and can only descend. The Copterbox is a single-use vehicle that is used to deliver perishable payloads. The gyrochute, on the other hand, is a reusable vehicle that is used to deliver sensitive payloads.

Similarities and differences between the Gyrochute and the Copterbox
Similarities and differences between the Gyrochute and the Copterbox









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