Boeing today unveiled a giant drone that's capable of lifting a 500 pound payload.
"Chicago-based Boeing's development of the environmentally-friendly electric propulsion system comes as the race intensifies to advance battery technology and electric motors to lower flying costs and move away from fossil fuels", Reuters notes. In terms of its dimensions the aerial craft is and is 4.5 meters (15 feet) long, 5.4 meters (18 feet) wide and 1.2 meters (4 feet) tall. The innovative drone is now called the "unmanned cargo air vehicle", although a more catchy name is expected to follow when the drone goes into commercial production.
Greg Hyslop, chief technology officer of Boeing, said the platform represents a step in the company's eVTOL strategy.
Also, while we write about electric vehicles every day and increasingly have written about VTOL aircraft, it was interesting to see that Boeing chose to abbreviate "electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing" as "eVTOL".
The aerospace company said that the technology tested on this prototype will "open up new possibilities for delivering time-sensitive and high-value goods, conducting autonomous missions in remote or risky environments, and other cargo and logistics applications. We fully expect partners around the world will create new ways of applying this technology". The development of the drone is outlined in the following video: The innovative vehicle will be used to test and evolve Boeing's autonomous technology for future aerospace vehicles.
"Our new CAV prototype builds on Boeing's existing unmanned systems capabilities and presents new possibilities for autonomous cargo delivery, logistics and other transportation applications", said Steve Nordlund, vice president of Boeing's HorizonX program.
The drone took, according to TechCrunch, Boeing engineers three months to design and construct.
Boeing says that researchers will use the new prototype as a flying test bed in order to further future technology and applications such as the MQ-25.
Specifics related to the drone's top speed and range were not shared.