Aircraft

Boeing builds an unmanned quarter-ton copter

Boeing builds an unmanned quar...
A rendering of the CAV in flight
A rendering of the CAV in flight
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The CAV prototype in the lab
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The CAV prototype in the lab
A rendering of the CAV in flight
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A rendering of the CAV in flight

You may like your little consumer quadcopter, but Boeing has just unveiled something with a tad more … heft. Referred to as an electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) cargo air vehicle (CAV), the unmanned prototype aircraft is designed to carry a payload of up to 500 lb (227 kg).

Equipped with eight counter-rotating propellers, the CAV measures an impressive 15 feet long (4.57 m), 18 feet wide (5.49 m) and 4 feet tall (1.22 m), plus it tips the scales at 747 lb (339 kg). It was designed and built in less than three months, led by a team from the company's HorizonX division.

The aircraft has already successfully completed initial flight tests at Boeing Research & Technology's Collaborative Autonomous Systems Laboratory in Missouri.

The CAV prototype in the lab
The CAV prototype in the lab

Although currently remotely-controlled, it's intended to serve as a flying test bed for the development of autonomous technologies and electric propulsion. It complements the eVTOL passenger air vehicle prototype which is being developed by Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences.

"This flying cargo air vehicle represents another major step in our Boeing eVTOL strategy," says Boeing CTO Greg Hyslop, regarding the CAV. "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."

Source: Boeing

2 comments
WilliamSager
I can also imagine a few of these being a perfect tool for new Frigates to quietly listen for submarines. With either a autonomous or manual over ride they should be able to drop anti sub torpedoes as well. Bear in mind we would be wise to make the ship a hybrid so it has the power generating capacity to use this and a laser.
Tom Lee Mullins
I can see it being used as a rescue quad copter where it can deliver inflatable boats or rafts to those who are at sea and the weather might not be too good for a boat or aircraft. Perhaps it could be used to help rescue those lost in forest / wilderness where a craft might not get to or up to if in the mountains.
I think it would be great for delivering cargo to remote places that traditional aircraft are unable to go.
I think a hybrid system could help extend its range. Perhaps have it be part of an airship?