Natilus begins autonomous cargo drone test
The flight tests represent a key milestone for Natilus and the autonomous cargo aircraft industry by confirming wind tunnel experiments conducted over a three-year period.
Natilus, an innovative company developing a fleet of highly cost-effective autonomous cargo aircraft, has successfully completed multiple flights of its Kona regional aircraft subscale prototype. The flight tests represent a key milestone for Natilus and the autonomous cargo aircraft industry by confirming wind tunnel experiments conducted over a three-year period, examining the aerodynamic performance of Natilus' unique blended-wing-body (BWB) aircraft design.
The Kona aircraft's subscale prototype took off from a private airstrip in Southern California and reached speeds of 70 mph. One of the most difficult aspects of the BWB design has been stability, and the test flights confirmed that the Natilus configuration can fly without the assistance of a complicated autopilot system.
“We are fully focused on completing the full-scale Kona prototype,” stated Aleksey Matyushev, Co-Founder and CEO, Natilus. “Our Kona remotely piloted aircraft will be capable of carrying over 9,000 pounds (4.3 metric tons) of freight and will open new markets worldwide. The progress of Natilus developing autonomous cargo aircraft is a game-changer in the logistics industry, providing an efficient and cost-effective solution for shipping goods across oceans.”
Natilus has also recently completed the full-scale prototypes of both vertical tails, validating the aggressive timetables to 1st flight. The company will receive Hartzell propellers in May, gearing up for the manufacture of the engine test stand.
Natilus is leading the effort of the air freight industry to overcome the challenges posed by the current pilot shortage, and has prioritised the development of innovative remote piloting technology, with the Kona prototype serving as a key component in correlating their own autopilot code for the full-scale demonstrator. This novel strategy will enable air freight companies to increase their operations without sacrificing safety or efficiency.