Bell Helicopter plans to demonstrate its Autonomous POD Transport, a tail-sitting vertical take-off and landing unmanned air vehicle, to several branches of the US military, including the Marine Corps, in the “late summer or early fall”.
The company has been test-flying a POD that can carry a 9.1kg (20lb) payload, and plans to show that vehicle to the military, says programme manager Eldon Metzger. A larger version of the POD that can carry a 31.8kg payload is under construction, he adds.
Bell’s Autonomous POD Transport takes off and lands vertically, but transitions and flies horizontally on wings. The VTOL capabilities of the aircraft allow it to take off and land in tight spaces, while its horizontal flight abilities allow it to fly more efficiently.