C-Astral, the Slovenia-based aerospace company, has been honored with one of the world’s most prestigious design awards, the Red Dot: Best of the Best, for its SQA eVTOL Unmanned Aircraft System. This esteemed recognition, often referred to as the "The Oscars of Design", places C-Astral alongside other notable 2024 winners, such as Apple for its product.   

"In the past decade, unmanned aircraft systems have undergone remarkable advancements. However, they are often associated primarily with military use, overshadowing their practical applications for civilian purposes. This is our focus in developing new, innovative unmanned aircraft systems with a modular design that can be used for various purposes," says Nejc Trošt, co-founder of C-Astral and lead designer of the award-winning SQA eVTOL Unmanned Aircraft System. The entire C-Astral team contributed to the development, with significant inputs from aircraft constructors Samo Stopar, co-founder of the company and head of applied development, and dr. Boštjan Bremec, technical director at C-Astral.  

A one-of-a-kind high-tech aviation product with basic training mastered in hours 
The award-winning SQA eVTOL unmanned aircraft systems from C-Astral can be employed for various purposes including natural disaster monitoring, search and rescue, agricultural process optimization, geodesy, pipeline and power grid monitoring, wildlife migration tracking, border security, reconnaissance, and many other applications.  

"This is a highly complex high-tech product, composed of more than 400 components. The product's construction utilizes the most advanced ultralight materials and electronic components, used in the space industry. When we manage to make such a technologically complex system user-friendly with a design that has good aerodynamic efficiency, success is guaranteed. Basic training to operate our system can last just a few hours, which is a global unique feature," explains Trošt.

Soon 100% domestic production of the most advanced unmanned aircraft systems 
C-Astral has been in business since 2007. With a young team of 30 engineers and experts from various fields, they develop and produce smaller unmanned aircraft systems that achieve the longest flight times on the market and the highest data capture accuracy. These systems are already used in more than 60 countries across all continents under demanding flying conditions. This high-value product, with built-in sensors, can cost up to two hundred thousand euros.

This year, one of the Slovenian aviation pioneers, Ivo Boscarol, became a shareholder in the company, signaling the company's serious strategic shift towards high-tech industrial production.

The product is entirely a result of Slovenian expertise. Composite materials, electronic circuits, and control software for the unmanned aircraft systems are developed in-house and in collaboration with Slovenian partners. Within a year, the remaining two of the 400 components will also be produced in Slovenia.

"Our production facility resembles a laboratory more than a technical workshop. Within a year, we will be assembling various unmanned aircraft systems from our components or those from Slovenian manufacturers. We are talking about 100% domestic production of the most advanced unmanned aircraft systems," emphasizes Samo Stopar, co-founder and head of applied development at C-Astral. 

About the Red Dot Award
Red Dot is one of the most prestigious and recognizable design awards in the world, awarded since 1955. It honors achievements in Product Design, Brands & Communication Design, and Design Concepts. In the field of product design, two awards are given. The Red Dot distinction recognizes excellent design products, while the Red Dot: Best of the Best is the highest accolade awarded to pioneering design products. Only five Slovenian companies have won this award, including Akrapovič this year. 

About the product
The SQA eVTOL Blended Wing Body (BWB) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) represents a ground-breaking leap in aerial technology, seamlessly combining advanced aerodynamics with cutting-edge autonomy. Unlike conventional aircraft, the BWB integrates the wings and fuselage into a single, smoothly blended composite structure. This design eliminates the clear distinction between wings and fuselage found in traditional aircraft which maximizes aerodynamic lift and minimizes noise emissions and drag during flight. This feature is particularly advantageous for covert operations and ensures minimal disturbance in urban or sensitive environments. Equipped with state-of-the-art avionics and Ground Control Station, the SQA can operate with minimal human intervention through intuitive, in-house developed graphic user interface. The system can be equipped with various sensors enabling precise navigation and data collection in diverse environments making it suitable for extended surveillance missions or remote sensing tasks. With its forward-looking streamlined design and advanced capabilities, the SQA is poised to redefine the possibilities of unmanned flight across a spectrum of applications.

Source: Press Release