Mighty Fly’s State-of-the-Art Third Generation Cargo Drone Has Just Hit the Market

San Francisco-based Mighty Fly is a good example of a small drone company with outsized global ambitions – and the cutting-edge design expertise and fierce entrepreneurial drive needed to realize them.

In just three years since its founding, the firm – owned and directed by Manal Habib– a remarkable woman in an industry still heavily dominated by men – has left a powerful mark.  Mighty Fly just released the third-generation prototype of its state-of-theart business cargo drone – the Cento.  With FAA approval already in the bag, and a flock of powerful new investors standing by, the company will soon be flying worldwide.

The second generation of the Centro was released less than a year ago – a sign of this company’s extraordinary pace of development.  Even then, industry observers were marveling at its capabilities.  The Cento is a fixed wing, eVTOL aircraft with a cargo capacity of 100 lbs, a range of 600 miles, and a maximum speed of 150 mph .  That gives the Cento II a perfect business niche:  small and medium-sized replacement parts firms that need to deliver cargo heavier than a package of emergency medical supplies but lighter than a motorcycle or a piece of heavy machinery.  The Cento can make these deliveries faster, more safely and more cheaply – and with a much smaller carbon footprint – than fully gas-powered road vehicles or propeller aircraft.  It’s potentially a huge win-win for shipper and receiver alike.

The Cento’s long range and speed of delivery is due, in part, to its hybrid powertrain, which obviates the need for recharging between flights. An internal combustion engine recharges the drone’s battery while the craft’s still airborne, enabling it to perform multiple consecutive deliveries.

But that’s not all: the Cento also streamlines the delivery process with the most advanced cargo handling system of its kind.  The drone comes with a fully automated conveyor belt platform that allows for completely autonomous loading and unloading of drone cargo.  The only human intervention required is for the cargo drop-off and pick-up.

The main innovation of the Cento III is a much larger payload (500 pounds) and a longer flight range (about a thousand miles).  Might Fly envisions the third-generation drone will expand its current business niche into larger medical supply companies and just-in-time manufacturing firms that need fast and accurate same-day delivery of goods, especially perishables.

Who’s interested in Mighty Fly’s state-of-the-art cargo drone?  Just about everyone, it seems.  Last year, the global electronics giant Mitsubishi tapped the firm as one of a dozen UAV companies that the Japanese company will now support as part of its own European-wide drone “hub” development strategy.  Mighty Fly was the only US drone company selected, and one of only two start-ups, an indication of the high regard with which the firm, despite its relative youth, is already held, especially abroad.

In the United States, not just businesses, but governments are also taking notice. The State of Michigan has sought out Mighty Fly to become an integral part of its recently unveiled and highly-touted Future Mobility and Electrification Program (FMEP).  Michigan’s automotive, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries, faced with recurring bottlenecks in their supply chains, are demanding a high level of speed and efficiency in their delivery schedules, but officials say their current road vehicle and point-to-point air delivery systems are having trouble keeping up.

The state is so excited about Mighty Fly’s capabilities, including its automated loading system that it;s provided the company with seed money to make an unprecedented public exhibition that could lead to a long-term statewide government contract for the firm, while opening the door to major new commercial opportunities.

The US Air Force has also recognized the agility of MightyFly’s platform and is supporting further development of its technology.  The company has already received a $1.2 million small business SBIR grant that helped fuel the development of the Cento III.  The Pentagon is especially excited about the craft’s autonomous cargo handling system, which it believes will allow combat troops in the field to be resupplied more quickly and wounded soldiers to receive faster, life-saving treatment.

“To be chosen for this contract signifies a vote of confidence in our mission and technical expertise.  We are honored to partner with the U.S. Air Force and to leverage our know-how to develop a system that directly addresses agile and expedited logistics needs and provide a major feature that is needed for the successful integration of autonomous aircraft within logistics,” Habib says.

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