Boeing recently unveiled a prototype cargo drone capable of transporting payloads of up to 500 pounds. Even more impressive is the fact that Boeing engineers went from a concept on paper to a working example in just three months.
The aircraft, officially described as an unmanned electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) cargo air vehicle (CAV), puts conventional consumer drones to shame. The aerial vehicle is outfitted with eight counter rotating blades for vertical flight and utilizes an environmentally-friendly electric propulsion system.
It measures 15 feet long, 18 feet wide and four feet tall and weighs 747 pounds (that specific weight probably isn’t a coincidence). The drone successfully completed initial flight tests at Boeing Research & Technology's Collaborative Autonomous Systems Laboratory in Missouri, we’re told.
Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop said the flying cargo ship represents another major step in their eVTOL strategy, adding that they have an opportunity to really change air travel and transport and that they’ll look back on this day as a major step forward in that journey.
The aerospace company intends to use the prototype as a “flying test bed” to further develop and "mature the building blocks of autonomous technology for future applications." It also complements the eVTOL passenger air vehicle prototype in development by Aurora Flight Sciences, the company Boeing acquired last year.
Aurora Flight Sciences is one of several aircraft manufacturers helping Uber develop its flying taxis of the future.