Bell has announced the successful first autonomous flight of the Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) 70 at their testing site near Fort Worth. Bell plans to continue to try-out the vehicle under an experimental type certificate throughout the remainder of the year.
“We are excited to reach this milestone, and look forward to continuing to advance this technology for our customers,” said Scott Drennan, vice president, Innovation. “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.” APT 70 is part of the eVTOL family of vehicles Bell is developing. It can reach speeds of more than 100mph and has a baseline payload capability of 70 lbs. Bell’s APT systems allow for flexible mission capabilities while keeping operations simple, efficient and fast; they are capable of twice the speed and range of a conventional multi-rotor.
Designed for rapid deployment, quick reconfiguration, nimble battery swap and recharge.
Through the NASA Systems Integration and Operationalization (SIO) demonstration activity, Bell will use the Autonomous Pod Transport 70 to simulate a commercial mission in the national airspace system and conduct beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flight operations. The demonstration is expected to be held in mid-2020.
Bell also collaborates with Yamato, a Japanese third-party logistics provider, to integrate Yamato’s package handling system into APT 70 providing an exceptional customer experience for on-demand logistics services. The Bell and Yamato team conducted a demonstration today showcasing their systems working together in preparation for entry into service anticipated by the early-2020s.