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Published Feb 14, 2022+ Follow
The global supply chain is currently experiencing all kinds of glitches, from material shortages to labor shortages and beyond. Moving goods from point A to point B has become more expensive, and there’s no quick fix in sight. But a San Diego-based startup plans to meet some of the demand for air freight with an innovative solution: autonomous cargo drones as big as a Boeing 747. And customers are jumping on board.
Why is this important?
Natilus, founded in 2016, this week announced $6 billion worth of pre-orders for over 440 of its aircraft. The company says its blended wing design can fit 60 percent more cargo than existing freight aircraft while cutting costs by 60 percent and with 50 percent fewer carbon emissions. Aleksey Matyushev, the company’s CEO, pointed out in a press release that moving freight by sea is 13 times cheaper than moving it by air, but takes 50 times as long. “Natilus intends to revolutionize the transport industry by providing the timeliness of air freight at an affordable cost reduction of 60 percent, making air cargo transportation substantially more competitive,” he said. Although still in development, these mega-drones are said to be able to fly further and longer than traditional drones, while carrying a much heavier load. This initiative is part of a plan to develop more sustainable modes of transportation, and it’s hoped that the mega-drones will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the globe. The next goal is of course to develop drones that are carbon-neutral, powered by regenerative energy sources.