Bell has signed a cooperative agreement with NASA for a UAS flight demonstration in the National Airspace System (NAS) expected to be conducted in 2020, the company announced on 6 September.
The agreement outlines the goal of progressing towards routine commercial UAS operations in the NAS.
Bell and its team of 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 C2 and detect and avoid technologies.
Bell’s APT70 uses a tail-sitting electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) configuration that is capable of rotation and translation in flight to maximise performance. APT70 can reach speeds of more than 100mph and has a baseline payload capability of 70lbs.
The team intends to explore requirements as they relate to commercial transport missions for medical, law enforcement/parapublic and offshore missions.
Under the agreement, Bell will lead the design, development, production and systems integration of APT, while Textron Systems will supply C2 operations, Xwing will provide detect and avoid technologies and CASA will provide weather avoidance technology.
C2 technologies will extend the capabilities of UAS across platforms, domains and users. The weather avoidance technology will provide precise information on location, timing and severity of thunderstorm activity, wind and rain to help maximise the time UAS operations can be safely conducted.