Bell's Self-Flying APT 70 Cargo Drone Hauls a Heavy Load


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The New York Times
SOURCE: https://www.wired.com/story/bell-apt-70-cargo-drone-test-flight/
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Summary

That all-important stat gives it the name APT 70, the letters standing for “autonomous pod transport.” It first started flying in December via remote control, and in the past three weeks began fully autonomous flight, Bell announced this week.The helicopter manufacturer developed the APT 70 for NASA’s drone integration program, formally known as the Systems Integration and Operationalization demonstration activity. In that effort, it’s primarily intended to demonstrate commercial drone missions in public airspace, as well as their autonomous behavior beyond an operator’s line of sight.Bell's APT 70 cargo drone has been flying via remote control in December, and started autonomous operations a few weeks ago.But Bell thinks it has found a sweet spot with this configuration in terms of payload, range, and usability that will appeal to a wide array of customers. Now the APT 70 can take off, transition to horizontal flight, fly to a string of waypoints, return to its starting point, and land entirely on its own.Getting the drone to convert itself from vertical to horizontal flight and back proved the greatest challenge.

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