Boeing wants to take on Amazon’s drone delivery service
Boeing unveiled a prototype for a massive remote-controlled drone Wednesday, meant to deliver cargo up to 500 pounds. It measures 15 (4.57 meters) by 18 (5.49 meters) by four (1.22 meters) feet, weighs nearly 750 pounds (340 kg), and is powered by an electric propulsion system that allows it to vertically take off and land. Eventually, it wants the drone to fly itself.
Such ambitions put the plane maker in direct competition with Amazon, which in December 2013 said it was developing Prime Air drone delivery service. Both companies say their drones are intended to be able to deliver goods within at least a 10-mile radius. Amazon’s drones, however, are only intended to carry packages up to five pounds—a payload that the retailer says encompasses nearly 90% of its sales.
Boeing has several other autonomous and VTOL projects in the works. In December, it unveiled an unmanned refueling drone that it’s building for the US Navy. In October, it acquired Aurora Flight Sciences, an aviation and aeronautics research company that is partnering with Uber to develop an electric VTOL flying taxi network.