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Will Drones Change the Industry?

Autonomous cargo drone developer Natilus already has advance orders of more than $6bn.

Orders are in place from companies including Astral Aviation, Aurora, Dymond, Flexport and Volatus Aerospace. And now UPS feeder airline Ameriflight has added their name to the list, planning to purchase 20 Natilus Kona cargo drones.

One of Natilus' aircraft models. Photo credit: Natilus

Why all the interest? The Kona drone, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), is designed to carry more cargo than a tubular aircraft of the same dimensions, according to Natilus. The drone can carry over 4.3 tonnes over 900 nautical miles, without the need for a pilot.

It also offers considerable carbon emissions savings. The lack of a pilot, and therefore the requirement for pressurisation, along with the vehicle’s unique shapes, means it could cut its emissions up to 50% less than a crewed flight bearing similar cargo.

Natilus intends to revolutionise the industry by providing the timeliness of air freight at an affordable cost

Natilus chief executive Aleksey Matyushev said: “Today, there are only two ways to move cargo internationally: by air and by sea. The difference between the cost and time of these two modes of transportation is dramatic. Sea freight is currently 13 times less expensive than air freight; but 50 times slower in delivery.

Natilus intends to revolutionise the transport industry by providing the timeliness of air freight at an affordable cost reduction of 60%, making air cargo transportation substantially more competitive.”

In the meantime, other manufacturers are developing drones to compete with Natilus. Dronamics is a rival to Natilus, and already has working prototypes in place. They have signed a deal with Quickstep for three aircraft by October this year.

The drones are coming…

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