Bell Textron Inc. has successfully tested its autonomous pod transport (APT) 70 cargo drone for the first time, with a maiden journey in Fort Worth, Texas.
The APT 70 is an electric vertical takeoff and landing drone that can reach speeds of more than 100 mph and can carry a payload of 70 lb. Bell Textron said the drone can travel twice as fast and has a longer range than conventional multirotor drones. It is designed for rapid deployment, quick reconfiguration and easy battery swap and recharge.
Bell said it plans to continue to test the cargo drone for the remainder of the year, demonstrate a simulated commercial mission in the national airspace system and conduct beyond visual line of sight flight operations through NASA Systems Integration and Operationalization. That demonstration is expected to be held in mid-2020.
The high-capacity cargo drone is for use in various applications, such as medical cargo transport, disaster relief or UAV commercial deliveries in the future.
Additionally, Bell is working with Yamato to integrate a package handling system into the APT 70 drone for on-demand logistics. The collaboration will work to prepare a drone package-delivery service for the early 2020s.