Manchester University flies 'world's largest quadcopter' (made of foam and cardboard)


The University of Manchester launched the project Giant Foamboard Aircraft in 2022, a large-format foam and cardboard plane. A bit in the style of those of Flitetest in the United States. This project inspired a team of university students who decided to embark on the process of creating a large-format quadcopter.

The information is only now being released, but the first flight of the Giant Foamboard Quadcopter (GFQ) took place successfully on July 5, 2023 in a hangar at the Snowdonia Aerospace Center site in Wales. 

Foam and cardboard?

The structure of the device is X-shaped, made of laser-cut 5mm thick Depron foam sheets, assembled with hot melt glue and covered with paper. The core that contains the electronics is made of foam. The giant drone is powered by 4 motors and batteries for a total of 50V or 12S.

The machine measures 6,4 meters on each side and weighs 24,5 kilos. The foam structure represents 25% of the total weight, the electronics and motors 15%, the cables 19%, and the batteries 19%.


According to Dan Koning, a research engineer at the University of Manchester who led the design and construction of the vehicle: “ Cardboard is an interesting material to work with when used in the right way, we can create complex aerospace structures where each component is designed to be as strong as necessary but no more – because there is no place for excessive engineering […] Thanks to this discipline in design and after extensive research, we can confidently say that we have built the largest quadcopter drone in the world ».

source: University of Manchester

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  1. Hi, I don't see how this is an evolution. I remember flying a garden chair (yes yes…) with a maze32 / 150kv motors / 22″ ESC 60A propellers and 8S lipos 🙂

    Well, it really didn't fly well... but it was fun ^^

  2. The press articles miss a very important parameter: it is the largest under 25kg! Otherwise an Ehang type device is larger

  3. In any case, it is more pleasant to discuss fun drones or great achievements than to talk about drones for military purposes.

  4. @SteveO: NEC Flying Car or the first airspeeder for example… There is one flopper anyway, even if they are starting to date

  5. @SteveO: Human propulsion so we are going to look for maximum yields, and in aero there is no secret we need elongation (subsonic range) and low mass.
    Which leads to immense structures at the limit of the RDM and aeroelastic effects, with a flight envelope spread over a few m/s in the calmest atmosphere that can exist.
    In the example of this article what is interesting is the use of “simple” materials and rapid construction techniques.
    Next step growing bamboo in the shape of a drone frame? 😀


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