California-based startup Pyka has revealed what it claims is the world’s largest electric cargo aircraft and the first autonomous vehicle of its class, the Pelican Cargo drone.
The Pelican Cargo has a range of up to 200 miles (320km), a payload of up to 400 lbs (180kg) and 66 cubic feet of space for cargo. It features a nose-loading configuration with a sliding cargo tray and is intended to be used by express logistics companies as well as by remote rural communities.
Pyka CEO and co-founder, Michael Norcia said, “We designed this plane to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from the logistics chain, while offering a significant speed advantage over ground transportation and operating costs at a fraction of conventional air transportation.”
Pyka, which was founded in 2017 is already selling a drone for use in agricultural spraying. Last year the company raised US$37 million of private investment.
The company says it has secured pre-commitments for more than 80 orders and options for the Pelican Cargo from three launch customers across in the USA and Europe.
The aircraft is currently undergoing flight testing at Pyka’s test facility in Northern California. The company aims for the drone to be operating commercially before the end of this year.
Alex Brown, director of Skyports Drone Services, one of Pyka’s launch customers for Pelican Cargo said, “We operate a carefully selected fleet of UAS [unmanned aerial systems] platforms across our markets, each of which has been chosen due to its operational capabilities and unrivaled performance.
“Welcoming the Pelican Cargo aircraft into our fleet will enable us to continue on our mission of solving complex logistical and operational challenges with tailored drone services.
“The Pelican Cargo is the most advanced product in its payload class on the market. We’re excited to kickstart operations with Pyka and put the Pelican through its paces.”