Boeing has taken what it calls a ‘major step in its electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) strategy’ after launching a new cargo UAV which is designed for logistical applications and can carry 250kg payloads.
The company’s multi-copter UAV prototype is part of its development in autonomy and electric propulsion technology.
In less than three months, a team of engineers and technicians across the company designed and built the cargo air vehicle (CAV) prototype. It successfully completed initial flight tests at Boeing Research & Technology’s Collaborative Autonomous Systems Laboratory in Missouri.
Powered by an environmentally-friendly electric propulsion system, the CAV prototype is outfitted with eight counter rotating blades allowing for vertical flight. It measures 15 feet long (4.57 meters), 18 feet wide (5.49 meters) and 4 feet tall (1.22 meters), and weighs 339kg.
Boeing researchers will use the prototype as a flying test bed to mature the building blocks of autonomous technology for future applications. Boeing HorizonX, with its partners in Boeing Research & Technology, led the development of the CAV prototype, which complements the eVTOL passenger air vehicle prototype aircraft in development by Aurora Flight Sciences, a company acquired by Boeing late last year.
“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,” said Steve Nordlund, Boeing HorizonX’s vice president.
“The safe integration of unmanned aerial systems is vital to unlocking their full potential. Boeing has an unmatched track record, regulatory know-how and systematic approach to deliver solutions that will shape the future of autonomous flight.”
Boeing chief technology officer Greg Hyslop said: “We have an opportunity to really change air travel and transport, and we’ll look back on this day as a major step in that journey.”