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Published on January 11th, 2018 | by James Ayre


Boeing Shows Off Prototype Unmanned Electric Vertical-Takeoff-&-Landing Cargo Aircraft

January 11th, 2018 by  

A prototype of a new unmanned and electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) cargo air vehicle (CAV) design has just been shown off by Boeing — with the idea being for the new prototype to serve as a test vehicle for the company’s autonomous operation tech.

The prototype is a sort of rough draft, to put it lightly, as it was designed and built in fewer than 3 months and can “only” carry up to 500 lbs in cargo weight via its electric propulsion system.

“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,” stated Steve Nordlund, the vice president of Boeing HorizonX (the developer of the CAV).

“Chicago-based Boeing’s development of the environmentally-friendly electric propulsion system comes as the race intensifies to advance battery technology and electric motors to lower flying costs and move away from fossil fuels,” Reuters notes.

“Airbus, Rolls-Royce, and Siemens, came together in November to develop a hybrid electric engine, with Airbus responsible for the control architecture of the propulsion system and batteries.

“In October, a Seattle-area startup — backed by the venture capital arms of Boeing and JetBlue Airways Corp — announced plans to bring a small hybrid-electric commuter aircraft to market by 2022.”

None of that amounts to much until development yields solid results, though. The only thing being publicly revealed to date is really just the videos Siemens released last year.

Presumably, it won’t be long until further real-world demonstration of the tech is forthcoming.

For now, here are a few more details regarding the Boeing news, via Boeing:

“It successfully completed initial flight tests at Boeing Research & Technology’s Collaborative Autonomous Systems Laboratory in Missouri. …

“Powered by an environmentally-friendly electric propulsion system, the CAV prototype is outfitted with eight counter rotating blades allowing for vertical flight. It measures 15 feet long (4.57 meters), 18 feet wide (5.49 meters) and 4 feet tall (1.22 meters), and weighs 747 pounds (339 kilograms).”

Also, while we write about electric vehicles every day and increasingly have written about VTOL aircraft, it was interesting to see that Boeing chose to abbreviate “electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing” as “eVTOL.” Perhaps we should start using that acronym as well.



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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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