What started as an electric autonomous crop sprayer has turned into an electric cargo plane that could alter the future of shipping.
- Aerospace startup Pyka created an autonomous electric aircraft designed to spray crops and has transformed the aircraft to hold cargo and be the newest cargo shipping device.
- The Pelican is Pyka’s all-electric cargo plane. It features an extended range, increased payload capacity, and maximized cargo volume, according to the company website.
- The cargo plane has a maximum range of 150 miles when carrying a full load of 400 pounds. It had its first test flight in December and could begin daily trial services in the U.K. later this year.
- Pyka CEO Michael Norcia says the company has 80 orders for the Pelican from Skyports and two other disclosed customers.
Why it’s news
While these planes only fly a short distance with very little freight, the future of shipping could be changed with this new electric cargo plane—if the size and load can be dramatically increased.
Aerospace startup Pyka started with an autonomous electric aircraft designed to spray crops. CEO Michael Norcia and company co-founders say a crop spraying vehicle faced fewer regulations and less opportunity for someone to be hurt if failures arised.
In 2021, the initial vehicle successfully sprayed banana fields in Costa Rica, leading to many companies requesting the vehicle be transformed into a cargo plane to allow for clean, autonomous cargo shipping.
Pyka recently announced the creation of its Pelican cargo aircraft. The craft has a maximum range of 150 miles when carrying a full load of 400 pounds allowing it to ship large loads of items while cutting back on emissions.
Since the plane was initially designed to take off and land in rough crop fields, it will allow the cargo plane to be used in rural areas that are not typically able to receive deliveries.
“Pelican Cargo will have a significant positive impact on people’s lives,” says Pyka CEO Michael Norcia. “We designed this plane to eliminate C02 emissions from the logistics chain, while offering a significant speed advantage over ground transportation and operating costs at a fraction of conventional air transportation.”
The first commercial operation of the new product is expected for the second half of 2023.