Boeing Unveils VTOL Drone for Cargo Transport

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Boeing's said nothing about speed or range, so it's hard to assess whether the prototype will be decent competition for conventional transport. 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 past year.

Boeing has unveiled a new unmanned cargo air vehicle (CAV), basically a drone that could transport 500 pounds or 226 kilos worth of goods. It measures 15 feet long (4.57 meters), 18 feet wide (5.49 meters) and 4 feet tall (1.22 meters), and weighs 747 pounds (339 kilograms). While analysts have predicted for some time now that drones are on course to transform the logistics sector, Boeing's additional aerospace muscle represents a seismic shakeup of the industry, with the Chicago-based company now plowing its extensive technology and resources into developing this still incipient technology. They are most commonly used by media outlets.

Boeing said the prototype is destined to serve as a testbed for future cargo drones, alongside efforts to figure out just how to get fleets of autonomous aircraft integrated with other commercial flights.

The aerospace company expects that once mature, the technology tested on this prototype will revolutionize time-sensitive deliveries, particularly in risky environments and areas lacking proper transportation infrastructure.

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Prototype development was led by Boeing HorizonX, along with partners in Boeing Research & Technology.

In less than three months, a team of engineers and technicians across the company designed and built the CAV prototype. "Boeing has an unmatched track record, regulatory know-how and systematic approach to deliver solutions that will shape the future of autonomous flight". The prototype has recently completed a successful test mission at Boeing's research lab in Missouri.

The drone's eight propeller vertical-liftoff "quadcopter" design makes such a drone appropriate for deployment in shorter-range last-mile, or perhaps short-distance deliveries between clustered Distribution Centers.

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