Bell, Boeing Expect Big Lift From Delivery Drones

The aviation industry giants appear to be all in on developing drones that can carry cargo for many miles.

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You probably remember all the hoopla when Amazon announced in 2013 that it was developing delivery drones to fly a package to your doorstep. 

Some people thought the idea was crazy. But some aviation industry giants — Fort Worth-based Bell Helicopter and Chicago’s Boeing Co. — took the idea very seriously and believe the craft can be the basis of “on-demand delivery,” according to a report in Popular Mechanics.

“ODM is about logistics. We believe these vehicles are needed immediately.”
Scott Drennan

“ODM is about logistics. We believe these vehicles are needed immediately,” Bell’s Director of Innovation Scott Drennan told Popular Mechanics when it visited Bell’s headquarters recently in Fort Worth.

Bell is developing what it calls the Autonomous Pod Transport which takes off like a helicopter and flies like an airplane. It’s a 5-foot-tall, four-rotor drone, and it can deliver a 10-pound package 50 miles.

Bell has been testing the craft in Fort Worth, and Popular Mechanics said the company has plans for a sigh-rotor version capable of carrying 200 pounds up to 300 miles.

The company said it built the drones to advance technologies by applying what it had learned. It wants to sell the drones to military customers first before moving on to private aerial delivery services.

Boeing wants in on the market, too, and recently released a video of a prototype quadcopter designed to fly a load of up to 500 pounds.

The company has a large North Texas presence, having headquartered its new Boeing Global Services division last year in Plano.

You can watch Boeing’s video below.

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Boeing’s drone would be capable of lifting 500 pounds. [Screenshot via Boeing video]

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