Somewhere in Brazil, a tiny aircraft has recently been test-flying over vast areas of agricultural land. It’s not just ‘an aircraft’, it’s an autonomously flying, full-electric crop duster that can do the job on its own. Called the Pelican, the plane has been developed by US start-up Pyka since February 2017. Since last year, Pyka is supported by Embraer through its Embraer X accelerator program, which could result in new opportunities for both companies. How an autonomous crop duster gets Embraer X attention.

Yes, Embraer has been known for 53 years for its families of commercial, executive, and military aircraft, but investing in potentially disrupting technologies and projects has become part of the core strategy since 2016. The most visible product of that strategy is the Urban Air Mobility project Eve, which was launched in 2017. Last December, it was spun off from Embraer, acquired by Zanite corporation, and has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since May 10. While Eve still has to prove its merits, Embraer’s engineering teams fully back the project to get to certification and entry into service in or around 2026.

 


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