Toyota Cargo Drone
Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturer
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
On February 12, 2020, a Reddit user named Red_Jensen took a picture of a new large drone hovering just off the ground at the Mojave Air and Space Port, Mojave, California, USA. It appears to be a hybrid-electric cargo drone due to having no place for passengers and having inverted U-type landing struts. Please note, we don’t know the official name for Toyota’s cargo drone. (The above photograph is by Reddit user Red_Jenson, used with permission.)
At the time of the sighting, there were only two places online discussing the drone, the Reddit post and a reporter from The Drive website who discovered the Reddit post. As of March 2020, this web page is the third place detailing the Toyota cargo drone sighting using the information from Reddit post, The Drive article and the photographs.
The vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft has a heart-like logo on its tail which is the same heart-shaped logo as Toyota’s hydrogen-fuel cell powered semi-trailer truck prototype, reported in an April 19, 2017 electrek article. From this logo, we can make a calculated guess the VTOL aircraft is a hydrogen fuel-cell powered VTOL aircraft, also known as a hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), USA, tail number on the aircraft is N871YT and the FAA website reveals the aircraft is a fixed-wing aircraft using electric motors to power its propellers and is made by Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacture from Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.
The article from The Drive, has mostly pixellated photographs and therefore much of this web page is formed by looking carefully at these photographs. Here’s one good lesson learned from the pictures. If you are making a secret aircraft, paint it white because if you don’t have a good photograph, the white can hide many things including the configuration of the fuselage, booms, wings, propeller locations and more.
There seems to be a high-wing, most likely located in the middle of the aircraft with a smaller front wing fixed in a lower position mounted in the front of the aircraft. The forward wing has about 80% of the width of the main wing. The aircraft also has four booms, two on each side of the main fuselage. These booms are where the vertical propellers are located.
The aircraft has two rear vertical wing-tip type rudders and four fixed landing struts. At the end of each strut is a base, no wheels are on the landing struts. The landing struts have the shape of an inverted U which make it appear the cargo will be picked up and flown on the bottom of the aircraft, possibly carrying aircraft shipping containers.
There are possibly up to eight vertical propellers on the aircraft (or more) and there is a pusher propeller in the back of the aircraft for forward flight. The aircraft may be about 34 feet wide (10 m), 24 feet long (7 m) and 7 feet tall (2 m) – these numbers are simply a rough guess from looking at photographs with people next to the aircraft.
The picture above shows the aircraft in an untethered hover which reveals the aircraft has made at least one test flight either by remote piloting or autonomous piloting.
It was reported on Jan. 15, 2020 that Toyota invested $394 Million in the Santa Cruz, California, USA-based Joby Aviation. Joby Aviation has designed and made an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for Urban Air Mobility (UAM). This cargo drone hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft might be Toyota’s entry into air cargo and/or possibly the forerunner to other UAM aircraft models.
Toyota has not made any official announcements at this time about their cargo drone aircraft.
- Article: Toyota turns to semi trucks for its hydrogen fuel cell tech, unveils new prototype with Mirai powertrain, Electrek, Apr. 19, 2017
- Article: Toyota Makes a New $394 Million Bet on Flying Taxis, Bloomberg, Jan. 15, 2020
- Reddit post: Weird plane spotted at KMHV, Reddit, Feb. 10, 2020|
- Article: This Big Crazy Vertical Takeoff And Landing Drone Belongs To Toyota And Mobility, The Drive, Feb. 12, 2020
- Article: Toyota’s Hydrogen eVTOL, eVTOL News, Mar. 3, 2020
- Article: NASA partners with 17 companies to invest in the future of Urban Air May Run On Hydrogen, The Architect’s Newspaper, Mar. 9, 2020