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This Robot Electric Cargo Plane Could Be The Start Of A Wave That Transforms Shipping

January 31, 2023
2023 01 31 at 3.46 PM


Norcia and his cofounders decided that crop spraying offered better initial business prospects than hauling cargo, in part due to fewer regulatory and safety concerns. Flying over farm fields, a crash would only harm produce, not people.

But after early success in 2021 spraying banana fields in Costa Rica with Pyka’s Pelican plane, Norcia tells Forbes that companies looking for a big freight-hauling drone began knocking. “They kept coming back to us saying, ‘Your technology is further along than anyone’s. Can you retool this to make a cargo aircraft?’”

On Monday, Pyka unveiled a cargo version of Pelican with a maximum range of 150 miles when carrying a full load of 400 pounds. It has a sliding tray to load cargo through the nose into its belly, which has 66 cubic feet of interior space, enough to fit five soft-shelled e-commerce totes. Pelican Cargo had its first test flight in December, and Pyka expects launch customer Skyports will begin daily trial services in the U.K. to undisclosed offshore islands in the second half of 2023.

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