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Boeing’s Experimental Cargo Drone Can Carry 500 Pounds, Enters Next Phase of Testing

Boeing announced last week that it has successfully completed the first outdoor flight tests of their experimental cargo air vehicle (CAV). “In a safe and controlled environment, the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) successfully took off, hovered, transitioned to forward flight and then landed safely,” says Boeing.

Cargo drones are currently not widely implemented in civil use, but the sector has huge possibility for value when regulations supporting drone delivery allow for greater use.  Recently, Google spinoff Wing Aviation announced that it had received the first FAA certification as an air carrier for drones, which is a first regulatory step towards allowing drone delivery as a commercial application.

Most drone delivery vehicles, such as those used in testing by Amazon and Wing, are designed to carry smaller packages.  Medical delivery drones are used for small packages that contain blood samples or vaccines.  Boeing’s CAV, however, is an entirely different vehicle: like the difference between a Volkswagon bug and a truck.

“Powered by an electric propulsion system, the CAV is designed to carry a payload up to 500 pounds (227 kilograms). This opens up new possibilities for safely and efficiently transporting goods in a variety of industries.”

The CAV was introduced last year as a prototype.  Since then, says Boeing:  “A team of Boeing researchers and engineers refined the design through rigorous indoor testing, flight simulations and lab research. The vehicle now features six dual-rotor systems and 12 propellers. It measures 17.5 feet long (5.33 meters), 20 feet wide (6.1 meters) and 5 feet tall (1.52 meters), and weighs 1,100 pounds (498.95 kilograms).”

The CAV is developed by Boeing NeXt, working on developing new manned and unmanned air vehicles.  In addition to the CAV, Boeing NeXt has developed a prototype passenger air vehicle.

“In the coming months, Boeing will continue to advance the development of the CAV with flight testing focused on forward flight, loads analysis and vehicle performance,” says Boeing.

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