Pyka unveils autonomous electric cargo aircraft
Powered by four electric motors with a total output of 100 kW, the Pelican Cargo by Pyka is said to be the largest autonomous electric aircraft to date. The model has a payload of 400 pounds and a range of 200 miles, or 181 kilograms up to 320 kilometres.
The aircraft was just unveiled by California-based start-up Pyka, which was founded in 2017 and specializes in developing autonomous electric cargo and crop-spraying aircraft for agriculture. The company’s proprietary technology includes autonomous flight control software, flight computer, batteries, electric propulsion system and carbon fibre composite airframes.
The Pelican Cargo is 6.1 meters long, 2.1 meters high and has a wingspan of 11.5 meters. Cruising speed is said to be between 111 and 148 km/h, thanks to four electric motors mounted on the front and rear of each wing. A replaceable 50-kWh battery is on board for energy storage.
The aircraft is controlled by a pilot on the ground via a satellite link. For this purpose, the aircraft itself is equipped with high-tech, such as six processors on two separate computers, a forward-facing lidar, a downward-facing laser, and redundant measurement systems and air data booms.
The aircraft is currently undergoing tests at Pyka’s flight test facility in Northern California. The first commercial operation is expected in the second half of 2023.