Bell Helicopter and Yamato Holdings have entered into a strategic collaboration to integrate UAS systems and package handling systems for civilian on-demand logistics services, Textron announced on 12 October.

The companies expect to introduce their initial product into service by mid-2020s.

For the initial demonstration activities, Bell will lead the design, development and production of its Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) and Yamato will develop a customised detached pod, highlighting future ground-handling capabilities.  

Bell’s APT utilises a tail-sitting eVTOL configuration and a payload pod. The eVTOL can reach speeds of more than 100mph and handle loads from 15lb to 1,000lb.

With this effort, the companies intend to demonstrate the integration of the existing ground logistics network with vertical lift capabilities to provide new and innovative services to customers.

Shinji Makiura, management executive officer of innovation and business strategy, Yamato, said: ‘We have provided logistics services for almost a century and are excited to invest in future services with next-generation technical solutions in collaboration with Bell to provide higher quality deliveries to our customers.’

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