US start-up plans a jumbo-jet-sized transport drone

Think big! There are lots of tests being carried out on logistics drones as package deliverers with regional reach. A team from California, however, has a flying freight train in mind.

07 Apr. 2017
Natilus Drones

Intercontinental flights with drones as big as passenger aircrafts is what the Californian start-up Natilus is planning, as reported by the news website Fast Company . According to the report, the unmanned, propeller turbine-operated airplane is to transport around 91 t and reach a flying height of around 6,000m. The developers have designed the giant drone as an air ship – it will take off from and land on water.

The main aim of the idea is to considerably reduce transport costs. As an example, on its website, the company compares the costs and transport time of a full load from Los Angeles to Shanghai with other forms of transport: a ship would transport the goods for a low amount of USD 61,000 but be travelling for 504 hours. A Boeing 747 would cover the same distance in 11 hours, but for this the costs would be around USD 260,000. The planned drone solution should achieve the distance in 30 hours, for half the price. Natilus wants to make a good 9m long prototype by the summer and subject it to rigorous tests. If these test runs are successful and gain strong investors, a full-size prototype is planned by 2020.

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