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APT70 to participate in NASA UAS Demo


September 23, 2018
By UAV Canada Staff
The APT70 utilizes a tail-sitting electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) configuration that is capable of rotation and translation in flight to maximize its performance. (Image: Bell)

Bell Helicopter reached what it describes as a cooperative agreement with NASA to participate in an Unmanned Aircraft Systems flight demonstration to be conducted in 2020 in the National Airspace System.

The cooperative agreement outlines the goal of moving toward routine commercial Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operations in the National Airspace System (NAS). Bell and its collaborative teammates Textron Systems, Xwing and the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA), plan to demonstrate end-to-end commercial mission operations with Bell’s Autonomous Pod Transport 70 (APT70), which will include integrated Command and Control (C2) and Detect and Avoid (DAA) technologies.

Collectively, Bell explains the working group will explore requirements as they relate to commercial transport missions for medical, law enforcement, parapublic and offshore missions.

“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’s 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.”

Bell will lead the design, development, production and systems integration of APT, while Textron Systems will supply command and control operations, Xwing will provide detect-and-avoid technologies, and CASA will provide weather avoidance technology.

“C2 technologies can extend the capabilities of unmanned systems across platforms, domains and users,” said Wayne Prender, VP, Applied Technology & Advanced Programs, Textron Systems.

Bell explains the APT70 utilizes a tail-sitting electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) configuration that is capable of rotation and translation in flight to maximize its performance. APT70 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 lbs.

“Some of the key technologies involved here represent a significant step to the safe and widespread commercialization of autonomous VTOL cargo and passenger carrying aircraft,” said Xwing’s  founder and CEO, Marc Piette. “Xwing is excited to work with Bell, with the support of NASA and the FAA, to accelerate the path to certification of these systems.”