Hillwood and Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, demonstrated a point-to-point unmanned aircraft system package delivery in North Texas at the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone.
The Bell Autonomous Pod Transport flew across the Mobility Innovation Zone and delivered a package to a landing area, demonstrating its future commercial capabilities.
The Mobility Innovation Zone, unlike anywhere else in the nation, provides the scale, infrastructure and perfect backdrop for the commercialization of budding technologies in air mobility.
Launching from the Mobility Innovation Zone Flight Test Center, flying in complex airspace and landing in Pecan Square, Hillwood Communities’ tech-forward, master-planned community in Northlake, the pod transport, which is designed to be capable of various missions from package delivery to critical medical transport and disaster relief, flew a preprogrammed four-mile route.
The successful test of Bell’s Autonomous Pod Transport highlights the potential for 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,” Perot said.
The Bell transport took off vertically, rotated to fly on its wing, becoming nearly silent to the ground below, a news release said. The craft reached a maximum altitude of 300 feet above ground level.
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 it could encounter during a commercial flight.
“Bell is proud to play a role in the first North Texas (unmanned aircraft system) 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 (Mobility Innovation Zone) showcases how Bell’s autonomous vehicles could seamlessly integrate into logistics operations and unlock new opportunities for businesses.”
The delivery craft tested 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.
Data collected during the demonstration will be used to support future standards development and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification guidelines.
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.
“Our region is uniquely positioned to support companies engaged in the commercialization of new technologies in air mobility,” said Jeff Williams, mayor of Arlington, Texas and chairman of the coalition 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.”
The AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone (MIZ) is a unique landscape built on collaboration and opportunity that works to connect people, places and ideas that push innovation in surface and air mobility forward.