Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Autonomous package delivery demonstrated in Northlake

An unmanned aircraft system successfully delivered a package in the Northlake community of Pecan Square. Photo courtesy of Hillwood

Hillwood and Bell Textron recently demonstrated a point-to-point unmanned aircraft system package delivery in southern Denton County.

The Bell Autonomous Pod Transport flew four miles across the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone and delivered a package to a landing area in the new Pecan Square community, demonstrating its future commercial capabilities, according to a news release from the two companies.

“This successful test of Bell’s APT at the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone highlights the potential for UAS to complete complex missions, moving the needle closer to connecting logistics operations directly to consumers,” said Ross Perot, Jr., chairman of Hillwood. “Together, we are carving a path forward for future commercial operations to solve the supply chain challenges our world currently faces.”

Taking off on its voyage, the APT initiated a vertical takeoff, and then rotated to fly on its wing, becoming nearly silent to the ground below. The APT reached a maximum altitude of 300 feet above ground level, according to the news release. Its route included flying near I-35W and miles of unpopulated fields as the aircraft transitioned in and out of Class D and Class G airspace, demonstrating the types of airspace the APT could encounter during a commercial flight and the unique diversity of airspace within the MIZ.

“Bell is proud to play a role in the first North Texas UAS package delivery, and this demonstration showcases the future application of the APT 70 as a logistics carrier,” said Mitch Snyder, president and CEO of Bell. “Testing at the MIZ showcases how Bell’s autonomous vehicles could seamlessly integrate into logistics operations and unlock new opportunities for businesses.”

The APT is the electric vertical takeoff and landing family of vehicles Bell is developing and can reach speeds of more than 100 miles per hour and has a baseline payload capability of 70 pounds, recently demonstrating carrying payloads over 100 pounds. Bell’s APT systems allow for flexible mission capabilities while keeping operations simple, efficient and fast. Bell and Hillwood have joined forces with the Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition, a public-private partnership focused on advancing mobility innovation within the western portion of North Texas, to create a regional ecosystem supported by leaders in government and the private sector. Several of the region’s mayors and civic officials were on-hand for the APT flight.

“Our region is uniquely positioned to support companies engaged in the commercialization of new technologies in air mobility,” said Jeff Williams, mayor of Arlington and chairman of the TRTC. “We’re proud to support Bell and Hillwood in launching North Texas’ first point-to-point package delivery at the MIZ and look forward to their continued leadership in making our region an epicenter for mobility innovation.”

Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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