Bell has joined with NASA to conduct end-to-end commercial UAS flight demonstrations by 2020 using Bell’s Autonomous Pod Transport 70 (APT70), which will include integrated command and control (C2) and detect and avoid (DAA) technologies. NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, is managing the project. Bell is partnering on the project with Textron Systems, Xwing, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA).
The Texas-based rotorcraft manufacturer will lead the design, development, production, and systems integration of the APT70, while sister company Textron Systems will supply command-and-control operations. Xwing and CASA will provide DAA and weather avoidance technologies, respectively.
Bell's APT70 employs a tail-sitting electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) configuration that is capable of rotation and translation in flight to maximize its performance. It is part of the eVTOL family of vehicles Bell is developing and can reach speeds of more than 100 mph and has a baseline payload capability of 70 pounds.
“Bell is proud to continue the collaboration of new VTOL UAS technologies to drive a path toward UAS certification and commercialization,” said Scott Drennan, Bell vice president of innovation. “We believe the capabilities of our Autonomous Pod Transport, with the support from our team, will enable us to tackle key challenges facing commercial UAS operations today, leading to a successful demonstration.”