Cargo drone startup Natilus tests blended-wing-body demonstrator 


Natilus, an American startup developing an autonomous cargo drone, has announced that it has successfully conducted a successful flight test of a subscale prototype of its ‘Kona’ concept UAV. 

Natilus expects to conduct flight tests with a full-scale ‘Kona’ in 2024.  

The Kona is a remotely piloted 85ft blended-wing-body (BWB) aircraft capable of carrying a 4.3 metric ton payload. It’s expected to pave the way for the development of even autonomous cargo aircraft capable of carrying greater payloads. 

Natilus, which is conducting tests at an airport in the California desert, sees the Kona as a first step in a far-reaching development programme that should see the successive development of autonomous aircraft, called ‘Alisio’ and ‘Nordes’ and capable of carrying 60- and 100-ton payloads respectively. 

The Californian startup, which was founded in 2016 and has so far been conducting tests in wind tunnels, claims to have already racked up orders for 460 aircraft, worth a combined $6.8B. 

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