Back in January 2023, MightyFly pulled the wraps off a vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft called Cento. The thing definitely looks like some sort of aggressive military drone, but it was actually meant to haul cargo.
Measuring 13.1 by 16.7 feet (4 by 5 meters), the Cento is powered by eight electric vertical lift fans and a forward propulsion propeller. It's made of carbon fiber, and can carry 100 lbs (45 kg) of cargo in a bay large enough to accommodate anywhere between 96 and 212 small USPS packages.
The company officially calls the powertrain of the drone a hybrid, with a battery pack used to feed the lift fans and propeller. It's a hybrid because the drone will not need to be plugged in to charge, but uses a 30-hp internal combustion engine to recharge the battery pack while in flight.
The drone can ship its cargo for at most 600 miles (965 km), and can reach a top speed of 150 mph (240 kph) while in the air.
A cargo capacity of 100 pounds makes it ideal for moving freight from business to business, but also medicine and, why not, even consumer goods from producers to retailers.
MightyFly's idea caught the eye of authorities over in Michigan, a state aiming to become a trendsetter in the field of autonomous aerial cargo transport. That's why, at the end of May, the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform (MMFP) granted MightyFly a $150,000 grant to "perform autonomous cargo delivery flight demonstrations in the state of Michigan." For some reason, the company only now made this public.
It's unclear at this point when the flights are expected to occur, or what routes will be used. The Cento is already certified by the FAA for long-range flights, so it probably won't be that long.
When the Cento takes to the sky it will mark the "first public demonstration of an autonomous, fixed-wing electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft showcasing 100 pounds of cargo deliveries." That means it will be a momentous occasion for a nascent industry that's itching to get going, provided everything goes according to plan, of course.
A more capable, 500-pound (227 kg) drone is presently in the works, but we're not told how far along it is.