Bell and Yamato to Develop Autonomous VTOL Delivery Drones

Published: 15 Oct 2018 | Author: Mike Rees

Bell autonomous delivery drone

Bell Helicopter and Yamato Holdings have announced that the two firms have entered into a strategic collaboration for the future of civilian aerial logistics. Together they are aiming to develop electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) logistics and plan to do so by collaborating to integrate innovative autonomous unmanned vehicle systems and package handling systems to create on-demand logistics services. They expect to introduce their initial product into service by mid-2020s.

“In the past few years, our Bell team has renewed focus on novel innovative solutions to better serve our operators globally, and we are excited to use our expertise to redefine the practice of civilian logistics,” said Scott Drennan, Bell’s vice president of Innovation. “Through this joint effort, we are eager to set a new precedent for on-demand delivery and future large-scale logistics.”

For the initial demonstration activities, Bell will lead the design, development and production of its Autonomous Pod Transport (APT), and Yamato will develop a customized detached pod, highlighting future ground-handling capabilities. The companies’ goal is to demonstrate the integration of the existing ground logistics network with vertical lift capabilities to provide new and innovative services to their customers.

“We have provided logistics services for almost a century and are excited to invest in future services with next-generation technical solutions in collaboration with Bell to provide higher quality deliveries to our customers,” said Shinji Makiura, Yamato’s Management Executive Officer of innovation and business strategy.

Bell’s APT utilizes a tail-sitting eVTOL configuration and a payload pod. The eVTOL can reach speeds of more than 100mph and can be small enough to handle loads up to 15 pounds, or large enough to transport 1,000 pounds. The APT capability aims to enable a new level of expedited service and operational efficiency.