On December 11, the Bell Innovation flight test team at our Mirabel, Quebec facility conducted the first flight of an alternate configuration of the Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) in collaboration with ARA Robotics. This platform operates with the same architecture and propulsion system of our renowned tail-sitter aircraft but utilizes a different airframe. The purpose of the project was to explore variations in the design and evaluate changes in performance, autonomy and user interactions.
This technology demonstrator is co-funded by the Canadian Technology Development Program (TDP). The TDP allows Bell to test new technologies that promote advances in autonomy and electric propulsion. Through close partnerships with Small and Medium Enterprises, Canadian academic and government organizations, Bell leverages valued expertise and resources to bring innovation to Canada and deliver advanced solutions to the world.
“We are excited to demonstrate this configuration to show our potential customers how flexible, scalable, and customizable this aircraft can be,” said Michel Dion, senior manager, Innovation.
This configuration evaluated alternative design features like:
· Fixed central pod that favors containerized payloads
· Side access to payload bays
· Swept wings
· Articulated V-Tails
To date, the APT program has completed hundreds of test flights and several demonstrations to potential commercial and military customers to display its capabilities which can fulfill a wide variety of unmanned logistics missions. The team continues to mature these technologies in preparation for initial aircraft production.