Boeing unveils autonomous electric cargo drone prototype

By Pouyan Broukhim

US aerospace giant Boeing has unveiled a new prototype for an unmanned electric cargo air vehicle (CAV) that will be used to test and develop the company’s autonomous flight technology.

With an ability to carry up to 500 pounds, the drone, once developed, is expected to be applied readily across the logistics and supply chain industries.

“This flying cargo air vehicle represents another major step in our Boeing eVTOL strategy,” said Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop. “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.”

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The prototype CAV was designed, built and completed its initial flights at the Boeing Research & Technology Collaborative Autonomous Systems Laboratory in just three months, with Boeing’s company-wide technicians and engineers having aided the development.

Led by Boeing’s innovative HorizonX arm, the technology greatly compliments the eVTOL passenger vehicle prototype aircraft that is currently in development at the Boeing-owned Aurora Flight Sciences.

“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, Boeing HorizonX.

“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.”

Measuring 15 feet long and 18 feet wide, the aircraft itself weighs 747 pounds, with eight counter rotating blades enabling the CAV to fly.

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