Bell has just released plans for an autonomous VTOL built for the toughest of Marine Corps missions.

Bell V-247 Vigilante in flight

The Bell V-247 ‘Vigilante’ is one of the largest unmanned VTOLs ever made. The tilt rotor combat drone is designed for a wide range of purposes including reconnaissance scouting, remote air strikes, cargo delivery, and more. It’s a versatile aircraft, made to launch from helicopter-carrying amphibious assault ships and more. It has more power and durability than any urban mobility eVTOL with a maximum speed of over 345mph, a maximum altitude of more than 25,000ft, and a payload capacity of 2,000lbs.

Bell V-247 In flight

Bell exhibited the V-247 to the Marine Corps and the public on September 25th at the Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia. Bell has been working on the V-247 since 2016. This was around the same time the Marine Corps announced its MUX ( Marine Air Ground Task Force Unmanned Aircraft System Expeditionary) VTOL program. Bell is currently the top option for the contract with MUX, having already sold its  V-22 Osprey into marine use.

A side image of the V-247

A side view of the V-247 mock up

Bell is also working on an air taxi passenger vehicle. It has only revealed the interior of this vehicle for now,  saying that it wants to keep its particular propulsion system configuration to itself until a later date. However, Bell has also been working on its FCX-001 concept private passenger helicopter, which is similarly designed for vertical flight by utilizing hybridized propulsion, shape-shifting rotor blades, gull-wing doors, and augmented reality in the cockpit to control the aircraft. Bell is one of the companies working with Uber to develop its on-demand eVTOL network.

Bell Air Taxi Interior

The Bell Air Taxi interior concept

Bell FCX-001

The Bell FCX-001 Concept Helicopter

Why it’s Important:
While the Bell V-247 is obviously not designed for urban mobility, the VTOL structural, electrical, and aerodynamic components are similarly relevant to flying cars. Large companies like Bell putting their money into these technologies will make the development of these vehicles more prevalent and rapid. Throughout history, many of the greatest technological innovations have been the result of military research. The development of VTOLs for public use may follow this path as well.

Posted by Naish Gaubatz

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