Autonomous Pod Transport (APT)
Fort Worth, Texas

The Bell Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) is an electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) vectored thrust multicopter Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

The APT uses gimbaled propellers at the each end of biplane-style wings. A cargo pod with bracket attachments sits between the wings. Under each rotor is a “vector thrust module” containing the batteries, speed controllers the motors for the propulsion system. An integrated avionics and sensor suite is embedded within the airframe. The APT is autonomous and designed to fly along predetermined routes.

There are two versions under development. The APT 20 carries a 20 lb (9 kg) payload and spans about 0.9 m long and 1.5 m wide. Its speed is up to 185 km/h with an 18 km range. It is easily disassembled and reassembled. The APT 70 carries a 70 lb (32 kg) payload and spans 1.8 m long and 2.75 m wide. Top speed is 222 km/h with a 30 km range. A third version for loads of 1,000 lbs (450 kg) is also being considered.

Bell is targeting both military and civilian third-party logistics applications saying third party logistics is projected to be a trillion dollar industry by 2020. The APT 20 with its quick reassembly is of particular interest to defense.

Tests of the APT will continue under its own experimental type certificate through 2019 for the FAA. A Systems Integration and Operationalism (SIO) contract won from NASA should allow demonstrations for beyond line of sight and detect and avoid capability in early 2020.