Bell Textron has announced that its Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) flew successfully with a payload of 110 pounds, completing an 8-mile route over the company’s testing site near Fort Worth, Texas, last week. According to Bell, it plans to begin demonstrating a series of military and commercial applications for the aircraft in 2021. The company says it is also working on simplifying the vehicle’s user interfaces and enhancing its autonomous features.
“The APT flight test team continues to push the capabilities of our aircraft, and we are excited to hit this milestone,” said Bell UAS program manager John Wittmaak. “This is yet another example of how Bell continues to adapt to customer needs.”
Bell’s vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) APT is powered by an electric-hybrid propulsion system. The APT 70 completed its first autonomous flight in August 2019 and its first beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) flight last July. Bell reports that it has currently conducted more than 300 test flights as part of its APT flight test program.