It’s 2023. Delivery drones have yet to enter the transportation arena, in part because of safety issues during short-range flights over urban areas. But while this consideration affects last-kilometer package delivery, long-distance transportation may be where drones will make the most impact.
San Francisco company MightyFly is determined to make long-range drone transportation a reality, and has recently developed the Cento drone. It features four electric motors that support front and rear propellers, as well as eight vertical lift fans, that keep the drone in the air and allow it to land and take off vertically. When fully loaded, it weighs only 355 pounds (161 kg), achieves a maximum speed of 150 mph (240 km/h), and is capable of carrying up to 96 small packages over a distance of 600 miles (965 km). Because the Cento does not need to take land routes and obstacles into account, it can deliver its cargo “as the crow flies,” using direct routes that are faster and more ecologically friendly than shipping via car or truck. When it lands, packages are automatically unloaded by the drone using its conveyer belt.
MightyFly is currently seeking approval from the United States Federal Aviation Administration to fly the Cento drone over very long distances. The FAA has currently authorized the company to conduct long-range tests to a distance of 230 miles (595 km) and a maximum altitude of 5,000 feet (1,524 meters); MightyFly hopes to extend the testing range to 600 miles (965 km). The company is also developing a second drone that could carry an additional 400 pounds (272 kg) of payload above Cento’s 100 pound (45 kg) limit.
Watch the Cento in action here: