Natilus Inc., of Richmond, Calif., is building a 30-foot prototype drone that could take to the air for the first time later this year. If all goes as planned, the firm will develop an 80-foot drone that will begin flying routes from Los Angeles to Hawaii in 2019. A 140-foot drone with a 200,000-pound cargo capacity could be flying routes to China starting in 2020.
Made of carbon fiber composites and powered by jet engines, the drones would take off from the water, eliminating the need for landing gear and long landing strips. It would land on water several miles from port before taxiing to the dock, where cranes would unload the cargo.
The amphibious drones would cruise at an altitude of about 20,000 feet and would fly slower than piloted cargo planes.
“Commercial pilot airplanes don’t want to fly slower because it would take forever to get there and pilot fatigue becomes an issue,” Natilus CEO Aleksey Matyushev told NBC MACH in an email. “For drones, that is not the case.”
Source: Multirotor – uavexpertnews – Drones Could Disrupt the Shipping Industry