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Kawasaki’s rad new unmanned compound helicopter

Holy Toledo, Batman! Just take a look at the amazing new drone from Kawasaki!

It’s clear, thanks to DJI, that China is the number one manufacturer of drones in the world. But Japan is also a producer of some pretty serious hardware. Yamaha has long had an unmanned chopper, the RMAX, used in precision agriculture. And now, we’re seeing a new drone from Kawasaki. We’ll get to it in a minute, but let’s just say it’s a pretty rad design. It’s a helicopter that has two motors for forward flight, which should, in theory, give it tremendous range. It also has a horizontal stabilizer.

So let’s get into it.

Compound chopper

The vehicle is produced by a division of the company called Kawasaki Heavy Industries. The term “compound” refers to the fact it has a rotor for vertical lift and two motors for forward flight. And the design? Well, we think it’s kinda gorgeous. Especially in flight:

Kawasaki’s K-RACER


It seems, given it has the “IV” designation, that this drone has been in development for some time. What’s new here is that it’s been doing more test flights. A LinkedIn post from the Japan UAS Industrial Development Association brought this to our attention.

The post says that Kawasaki had a successful test flight of the product, and then goes into more detail:

The K-RACER is a special type of testing machine called a compound helicopter that has a main rotor (4 m in diameter), main wings and propellers on both sides instead of a tail rotor. The left and right propellers can cancel the torque associated with the rotation of the main rotor and generate forward thrust. In forward flight, the main wing shares the lift to reduce the burden on the main rotor, and the concept is to enable high-speed flight that cannot be achieved with conventional helicopters. The power source is the supercharged engine of the company’s motorcycle “Ninja H2R”.

Japan UAS Industrial Development Association


Well, check out the photo. That’s a full-sized Kawasaki motorcycle.

This is *not* a drone for chucking in the glovebox. But wow — it’s slick.