Military

Bell demonstrates field supply drops with autonomous APT drone

Bell demonstrates field supply...
The APT can drop supplies without having to land or hover
The APT can drop supplies without having to land or hover
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The APT can carry two standard tactical boxes
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The APT can carry two standard tactical boxes
The APT has an autonomous flight system
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The APT has an autonomous flight system
The APT in flight
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The APT in flight
The APT can carry a variety of payloads
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The APT can carry a variety of payloads
The APT can drop supplies without having to land or hover
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The APT can drop supplies without having to land or hover
Rendering showing the APT supporting military operations
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Rendering showing the APT supporting military operations
View gallery - 6 images

Bell has demonstrated how its electric-powered, Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) quadcopter drone can carry out supply drops for soldiers in rough country or on the battlefield, without the need for parachutes or similar devices.

Any effective military is one where the combat forces are the sharp end of a very long logistical spear. The problem is, getting from the end of the supply line to the soldiers in the field across the last mile is often extremely difficult.

One example of this is air dropping supplies to squads and forward bases, and the history of modern warfare includes frustrating episodes where troops have food, medicine, and ammunition dropping from planes on parachutes only to watch in frustration as the precious parcels drift out of reach and even into hostile hands.

Rendering showing the APT supporting military operations
Rendering showing the APT supporting military operations

Designed to carry a payload of up to 100 lbs (45 kg), the APT can fly for up to 35 miles (56 km) at a maximum speed of 100 mph (160 km/h). The drone is designed to carry out a number of different tasks, like delivering medical supplies, but Bell also sees it as being suitable for battlefield airdrops quickly, precisely, and efficiently.

Key to this is not only the ability of the APT to carry two standard tactical packs, which can each be loaded with ammo cans, water, medical supplies, or fuel, it can also fly at speed to its destination and drop the supplies without landing or hovering for any length of time. The result is not only conserving battery power, but also increasing the drone's survivability by not presenting a target sitting in the air.

Bell says the APT has already flown 420 times at US Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, in Georgia, and other sites. The next step in the program will be to demonstrate how the aircraft can drop supplies on demand at its cruising speed of 80 mph (129 km/h).

"This speed bag resupply feature is a game changer for the warfighter," says Mike Goodwin, sales and strategy manager. "With the ability to drop supplies quickly and efficiently in a drop zone or a remote location, we can get critical supplies delivered as soon as they’re needed."

The video below shows the APT in action.

Bell APT

Source: Bell

View gallery - 6 images
4 comments
4 comments
paul314
I hope these things, if they come to exist, will be considered expendable. Because you're going to need a lot of hundred-pound flights to near the payload capability of one trip with a ground vehicle or even a helicopter.
Bob809
Whatever these things can carry, they are going to be targets for the enemy, whoever that may be. If they get hold of the 'supplies' it is carrying then what? Will it end up where these cargo drones have to be armed -therefore taking away payload capability- or have similar drones armed and capable of taking on the enemy. Captured drones could be used to deliver deadly cargo to the targets enemy ('terrorists' for example using them against the 'good guys'). I can still see the usefulness of these devices, but there are going to many, at least a few, unforseen issues to deal with. Of course, we can't hear how quiet/loud the drone is due to the totally uncessary rock music.
dan
of course it could become a game changer - e.g. if it can land safely critical goods as amo or medical supplies. but for dropping it out of the sky a eVTOL is certainly not competitive! And again: small eVTOL drones are not so much a challenge. the problem is battery power over long distance with heavy payloads. Supply for a platoon is rather 1'000 lb than 100 lb. So, it is still a long way to go...
sk8dad
Does anyone else notice the props are exactly face level? Cowing/ducting perhaps?