Boeing reveals drone testbed for unmanned heavy cargo transport


Boeing has revealed the unmanned cargo air vehicle that will be used to test and develop its autonomy technology for future aerospace vehicles.

The electric vertical-take-off-and-landing (eVTOL) prototype can carry a payload of up to 500 lb (227kg) for the testing and development of possible future cargo and logistics applications.

The cargo air vehicle (CAV) prototype is powered by an electric propulsion system and is outfitted with eight counter rotating blades allowing for vertical flight. It measures 15ft long (4.57m), 18ft wide (5.49m) and 4ft tall (1.22m), and weighs 747 lb (339kg).

Greg Hyslop, Boeing’s chief technology officer, said, “This flying cargo air vehicle represents another major step in our eVTOL strategy. 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.”

As well as cargo drones, Boeing has recently entered the race to develop a passenger-carrying drone. In November 2017 Boeing acquired Aurora Flight Sciences, a USA-based company developing an eVTOL passenger air vehicle prototype aircraft.

A team of engineers and technicians designed and built the CAV prototype in less than three months. Boeing HorizonX, with partners in Boeing Research and Technology, led the development of the CAV prototype.

The UAV recently successfully completed initial flight tests at Boeing’s Research and Technology’s Collaborative Autonomous Systems Laboratory in Missouri. Engineers will now use the prototype as a flying testbed to mature the building blocks of autonomous technology for future applications. 

“Our new CAV prototype builds on our existing unmanned systems capabilities and presents new possibilities for autonomous cargo delivery, logistics and other transportation applications,” said Steve Nordlund, Boeing HorizonX 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.”

A video of Boeing’s heavy lift CAV can be viewed here. 

January 17, 2018

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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