CAV prototype in the lab, courtesy of Boeing
Chicago (ACN) – A working prototype cargo drone unveiled today by Boeing marks the entry of the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer into the unmanned electric air cargo air vehicle space. 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 ploughing its extensive technology and resources into developing this still incipient technology.
The drone is powered by an electric propulsion system and outfitted with eight counter-rotating propellers, allowing for vertical and horizontal flight.
It measures 4.6 meters long, 5.5 meters wide and 1.2 meters tall, and weighs 339 kilograms.
David Neely of Boeing Research & Technology said that the drone would eventually be able to deliver up to 227 kilograms of cargo within a fifteen- to the thirty-kilometre radius, adding that it could, “change the way we deliver goods.”
Those specs position Boeing’s new drone in the last-mile delivery range, rather than long-distance cargo transport, where drones more closely resemble conventional aircraft.
The news is a development that Boeing’s chief technology officer Greg Hyslop said would, “change air travel and transport… We’ll look back on this day as a major step in that journey.”