Recently, China’s TB0D Scorpion D cargo drone made its first flight. This is not just a new product launch but is the starting point for changing how we currently operate cargo and in particular air cargo.
Due to its payload capacity of 1.5 tonns and a range of up to 6’000km, suddenly a true brakeup of the hub and spoke model when it comes to air cargo can be broken up towards a point to point connection approach. While there will be still many technical challenges to be overcome, especially regarding approvals, it is the first generation of cargo drones making shippment more automatic.
What needs to be done for a pivot in cargo networks:
- Reliable drones
- Payload range of 1 to 5 tonnes
- Distances of up to 8’000km
- Approvals for automatic landing and starts in most airports including fuel stop stations
- Drone speed can be slower to reach higher economic efficiencies
- Adaptation of ground work for loading and unloading
- Adapted packaging
I would not be surprised if we see commercial applications already shifting within this decade.