Boeing has unveiled a new unmanned electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing, or eVTOL, cargo air vehicle prototype that it plans to use to test and evolve future autonomous technology.
“This flying cargo air vehicle represents another major step in our Boeing eVTOL strategy,” Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop said in a company press release “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.”
The eVTOL cargo air vehicle, announced on Wednesday, is designed to transport a payload up to 500 pounds, and will aid in future cargo and logistic applications, the company said.
The transport is powered by an environmentally-friendly electric propulsion system and has eight counter rotating blades allowing for vertical flight.
In December, Boeing unveiled its MQ-25 unmanned aircraft system, which is designed for aerial refueling of U.S. Navy jets that operate from aircraft carriers.
The Navy has sought an unmanned aerial system with refueling capabilities to support and extend the combat range of Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C fighters.
Boeing’s version of the MQ-25 can be integrated with the same catapult, launch and recovery system on a Navy carrier that launches fighter jets.
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.
“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 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.”