MOST LIKELY, YOUR expectations for the age of drone delivery involve cute li’l quadcopters that descend onto your porch with a bzzzz, deposit a box of diapers or a pizza or whatever else you just ordered online, before zooming back to base, ready to deliver the next whim. That’s the vision pitched by the likes of Amazon, UPS, and DHL, and it’s an appealing one.
Boeing has a different idea for delivery drones, one that’s bigger by an order of magnitude. Last week, the aerospace giant revealed a prototype for an electric, unmanned cargo air vehicle that it says could haul as much as 500 pounds—that’s 400 large Domino’s pizzas or 11,291 newborn-sized diapers—as far as 20 miles. But this big buzzer isn’t going to your house.
Boeing isn’t sure where it’s going. “It’s an exploration,” says Pete Kunz, their chief technologist.