The Best Inventions of 2021
November 10, 2021 6:08 AM EST

SPECIAL MENTION: 2% of the U.S.’s 5,000 airports handle 96% of the cargo. Left out are small regional airports, which simply don’t get service. One possible solution: Xwing automated flight technology, which uses autonomous software to fly small cargo planes to where they’re needed. Xwing has already succeeded in flying proof of concept flights, flown autonomously with a pilot on board, including a four-hour delivery of PPE and other essentials from Concord, Calif to a Navajo reservation in Winslow, Ariz.—Jeffrey Kluger

Correction, Nov. 10.

The original version of this story misstated the nature of the company’s proof of concept flights. There was a pilot on board as required by federal aviation rules, they were not pilotless.

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