Up, Up and Autonomous: The Future of Flight


Last week, the industry’s top brands and innovators came to North Texas for the Indy Autonomous Challenge, a competition that pits teams against each other in an autonomous car race.

However, automation is no longer limited to the track. The next frontier of aviation is autonomous flight.

Mike Goodwin of Bell Flight, explained what the company is noticing in the industry at the moment and why autonomous flight will have more than just commercial application.


Mike’s Thoughts:

“Autonomous pod transport is something we developed originally in the commercial sector. We were looking to hopefully gain interest from folks like Amazon or Walmart. They’re both competing in that category. This one’s a hundred pounds, but we’ve also got a 20-pound cargo variant. Now, this a hundred-pound variant, we’ve actually flown in support of Army and US Marine Corps operations exercises and whatnot.

We’ve demoed it and the feedback we got was that they really like the pod system, but what they were more interested in were backpacks. And so we’ve got video running over there that shows where we’ve got the aircraft rigged up. It takes off vertically and goes in. The Ford flight carries about a hundred pounds of cargo on board.

The aircraft has about 35 miles of range and 88 pounds of batteries on board. Lithium-ion. And so we’re out here today with the Autonomous Challenge because we also host autonomous challenges as well for vertical robotic systems. And so we’ve got the Bell Vertical Robotics competition that we host every year.

And we have different high schools that participate. And so when we found out that there would be high school students that were coming out today, we wanted to make sure that we got a chance to represent and show them some of the things that we build and that they can have future opportunities either flying with Bell or potentially being engineers with Bell someday I’m there.”

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