Bell carries out flight of APT 70 UAV
Bell has conducted the first flight of its Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) 70 vehicle at its testing site near Fort Worth, Texas.
APT 70 is part of the eVTOL family of vehicles Bell is developing, and the company plans to continue testing the unmanned aerial vehicle under an experimental type certificate over the remainder of the year.
It is capable of reaching speeds of in excess of 100mph with a minimum payload capacity of 70lbs, and Bell says that APT allows for flexible missions while keeping operations simple, efficient and fast.
It is capable of flying at twice the speed and range of a conventional multi-rotor aircraft, and is designed for quick deployment, reconfiguration and battery swap and recharge.
‘We are excited to reach this milestone, and look forward to continuing to advance this technology for our customers,’ Scott Drennan, vice president of innovation at Bell, said.
‘The APT is designed to be capable of various mission sets, from package delivery to critical medical transport to disaster relief. We believe this capability will change the way unmanned aerial systems are used commercially in the future.’
Through the NASA Systems Integration and Operationalization demonstration programme, Bell will use the APT 70 to demonstrate a simulated commercial mission in the national airspace and conduct beyond-visual-line-of-sight flights, and this demonstration is expected to take place in mid-2020.
Bell is also collaborating with Yamato, a Japanese third-party logistics provider, to integrate the latter’s package handling system into the APT 70.
Bell and Yamato conducted a test in August demonstrating how their respective systems work together, in preparation for entry to service that is anticipated for the early 2020s.
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