U.S. aerospace manufacturer Boeing unveiled a working prototype cargo drone on Thursday with the end goal being “the ability to carry hundreds of pounds over broad distances,” according to an interview with Boeing by Air Cargo World.
The drone will enter the last-mile delivery range and is predicted to be able to deliver up to 500 pounds of cargo within a radius of 10 to 20 miles, according to David Neely of Boeing Research & Technology.
The drone is powered by an electric propulsion system and eight counter-rotating propellers, allowing for vertical and horizontal flight. It measures 4.6 meters long, 5.5 meters wide and 1.2 meters tall, and weighs just under 750 pounds. Boeing described its drone as an “unmanned electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing cargo air vehicle prototype” and said that it will use its first model to “test and evolve Boeing’s autonomy technology for future aerospace vehicles.”
The aerospace company told Air Cargo World that the technology tested on this prototype will “open up new possibilities for delivering time-sensitive and high-value goods, conducting autonomous missions in remote or dangerous environments, and other cargo and logistics applications. This could include oil rig and ship resupply, port operations, mining, construction, and logistics companies that move goods between distribution centers. We fully expect partners around the world will create new ways of applying this technology.”
Steve Nordlund, Boeing HorizonX vice president, told Air Cargo World that, “Our new CAV prototype builds on Boeing’s existing unmanned systems capabilities and presents new possibilities for autonomous cargo delivery, logistics and other transportation applications. Boeing has the regulatory know-how and systematic approach to deliver solutions that will shape the future of autonomous flight.”
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