This will ruffle feathers but it’s how I see it. Quietly being assembled and flown in Ukraine in a variety of roles the Corvo Precision Payload Delivery System (PPDS). There are multiple ways of defining success in theatre but from what I hear this flat pack is performing many different difficult tasks. This has to be a company to watch.
SYPAQ Systems Pty Ltd is an Australian company that manufactures a range of autonomous drones under the Corvo brand. The company was founded in 1992 and is based in Melbourne, Victoria.
SYPAQ’s most notable product is the Corvo Precision Payload Delivery System (PPDS), a small drone intended for logistics deliveries of payloads up to 5 kilograms (11 lb). The airframe is made of waxed cardboard and the drone is supplied as a self-assembly flatpack, complete with a tablet PC control centre.
The PPDS has a range of up to 120 kilometres (75 mi), and can return and land for re-use. However, its low cost means that it can also be treated as expendable when required. The PPDS has been supplied to Ukraine, whose armed forces have also customised it for other roles.
In addition to the PPDS, SYPAQ also manufactures a range of other drones, including the Corvo UAV, the Corvo VTOL, and the Corvo Surveyor.
The PPDS really is a very close relative of many Flitetest and SPAD designs. It’s an arena the big military vendors completely missed.
In 2022, SYPAQ was awarded a contract by the Australian government to supply cardboard drones to Ukraine. The drones were used by the Ukrainian military to deliver supplies to troops on the front lines, and to conduct surveillance of Russian positions.
The use of cardboard drones in Ukraine has highlighted the potential of these drones for military applications. The drones are low-cost, easy to assemble, and can be easily modified for different purposes. This makes them ideal for use in low-budget or improvised military environments.
In addition to their military applications, cardboard drones also have the potential for civilian use. I don’t doubt that we will see many variants popping up in a me-too manner. For Africa, this build method would be great for delivery drones needed for one-way emergency medical supplies, think anti-venom.
SYPAQ is well-positioned as the leading company in the development of cardboard drones. Or is it Flitetest?