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Airborne Motorworks Intermodal Drone

Airborne Motorworks eVTOL Intermodal Drone


Intermodal Drone
Airborne Motorworks Inc.
Spokane Valley, Washington, USA

Airborne Motorworks was founded in 2014 and is based in Spokane, Washington, USA. The company's purpose is to make electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) flying cars for advanced air mobility (AAM) and other practical delivery drones urban and rural areas. The company also specializes in developing high performance electric powertrains. The company has developed artificial intelligence software capable of providing flight training and autopilot features called iPilot™. The core of Airborne Motorworks green propulsion technology is safety, utility, thrust capacity, stability, design freedom, battery life/power and efficiency.

The Research and Development facilities of the company are located in Spokane, Washington. Initial manufacturing will take place outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Corporate management is based in the greater Houston area in Texas, close to NASA.

In planning a trip with their eVTOL aircraft, the pilot can input their destination into iPilot™ and will see a virtual roadway appear on the windshield. A dashed center line will give drivers the impression of a highway in the sky, allowing them to stay on track during the flight. Airborne Motorworks will use a combination of cameras, LiDAR, and ultrasonic sensors to provide Spherical Visibility™ around vehicles at up to 820 feet (250 meters) of range.

Autopilot enables automatic steering, acceleration and braking on virtual roadways. These sensors will detect nearby hard and soft objects when they encroach on virtual lanes and they will provide guidance when parking. All Airborne Motorworks aircraft will have hardware for self-driving with safety as a priority. iPilot™ will allow short and long distance trips with minimal assistance from the pilot. Pilots simply need to tell their aircraft where to go.

The company has also designed, manufactured and patented their Electromagnetic Gyroscopic Propulsion (EGP) system which includes a shrouded nacelle with a propeller guard which includes the propeller-fan, electric motor, gyroscope and other electronics for a powerful yet stabilized flight. The company states their shrouded propellers produce 10 times the amount of thrust than a similar sized open propeller. The propeller assembly also has a redundant motor design.

The Airborne Motorworks Intermodal Drone is a remote controllered or autonomous heavy-lift eVTOL drone that can carry intermodal containers. The number of propeller-fan assemblies will be determined by the length of the container needed to lift. The Intermodal Drone has a scalable superstructure and depending upon the length of the container, the drone could have as many as six to 20 or more propeller-fan assemblies to lift the cargo container.

Intermodal containers are large shipping containers designed and built to be used on different types of modes of transportation without unloading and reloading the cargo. The first international standards for shipping containers were developed in 1933. Intermodal containers can be transported by ship, trucks and the railroads. Intermodal containers are made out of corrugated weathering steel and are very strong and weather resistant.

The most common intermodal containers are made in lengths of 20 ft (6.1 m), 40 ft (12.2 m), 45 ft (13.7 m), 48 ft (14.6 m) and 53 ft (16.15 m). There are multiple other sizes of intermodal cargo containers which are not as common such as 8 ft (2.44 m) and 56 ft (17 m) sized containers.

It is unclear if the drone can only lift empty intermodal containers or fully laden intermodal containers. An empty 40 foot intermodal container weighs 8,775 lb (3,980 kg). Some of the largest intermodal containers can hold up to 80,000 lb (36,000 kg) just in payload weight.

Intermodal containers have standard castings located on each of the eight corners of a container, each casting contains three pill shaped holes. When transporting intermodal containers, a twistlock mechanism fits through the top, bottom or side pill shaped holes to secure the intermodal containers to each other or to the ship, truck or rail car. This twist lock mechanism would also be used on the superstructure of the drone to carry the container.

The Intermodal Drone would be used in any area where intermodal containers are being moved around, such as shipping yards, railroad yards and manufacturing plants. The aircraft lands on the bottom of its superstructure and no landing gear is required for the drone. There are also several safety features and redundant systems on the drone.

The company has not stated when a prototype will be flown or when they expect to see serial production of the Intermodal Drone.


  • Aircraft type: eVTOL heavy-lift cargo scalable intermodal container drone
  • Piloting: Remote or autonomous
  • Capacity: Its scalable superstructure allows it to carry many different lengths of cargo containers
  • Cruise speed: Unknown
  • Range: Unknown
  • Flight Time: Unknown
  • Maximum payload: Unknown
  • Propellers: 6 or more propeller-fans
  • Electric Motors: 6 or more electric motor (with a redundant motor design)
  • Power source: Batteries
  • Fuselage: Unknown material
  • Landing gear: The aircraft will land on the bottom of its superstructure
  • Safety feature: The propeller-fan is in a shrouded nacelle with a propeller guard to prevent large items such as birds or people from being hit. The propeller-fan assembly uses a gyroscopic type of gimble suspension making the propeller-fan assembly extremely stable. There is a redundant motor design and a patented thrust system for emergency landings.

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