SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said Wednesday that his company is planning to test “flying drones” for unmanned drones, and it’s looking to commercialize those “in the next three to five years.”
The news was revealed during a conference call with reporters that was streamed live on SpaceX’s website.
“Flying drones will allow us to test our new autopilot systems,” Musk said during the call.
“We can use the new flying drones to get our drones flying faster.”
“It’s kind of a fun experiment for us to see what happens,” Musk added.
“It’s also a great test for the commercial market because it will let us test our flying drones faster.”
The first drone test, called the “flying drone test,” will take place at SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California, spaceport on May 5.
The drone will fly at around 10,000 feet and land at SpaceX headquarters in the Mojave Desert, with SpaceX hoping to use the test to test new flying-drones that are lighter and cheaper than current models.
The flying drone test will be the first in the company’s drone program.
“If you have a drone that you want to fly that’s about the same weight as an airplane, then you can’t go and fly it,” Musk told reporters.
“You have to get it from the ground up to the air.
And that’s what the flying drone is.”
He said that the flying drones will be able to fly faster than airplanes and fly autonomously.
Musk said he expects the flying-drone test to happen in 2019 or 2020.
“But that’s a little over a year away,” he said.
SpaceX also announced in March that it is launching a fleet of small commercial drones to fly in the United States in 2021.
The company plans to have a fleet that could fly for “at least a few years,” Musk noted during the conference call.
SpaceX is also developing an autonomous drone for use in the space station.
Musk is also exploring the possibility of using a drone in space, though the company has not said whether the company will pursue a mission to Mars.