Elroy Air said it is working with FedEx Express to launch test flights next year using the eVTOL developer’s Chaparral hybrid eVTOL aircraft.
The express transportation company will develop plans to use Elroy Air’s autonomous aerial cargo drone within the company’s middle-mile logistics operations, moving shipments between sorting locations.
“We are proud to work with FedEx to build the next generation of express logistics,” said Kofi Asante, Elroy Air’s vice president of business development and strategy. “When you’re not limited by challenging infrastructure, traffic, or airports, logistics can reach more people, faster than ever before. We look forward to working together to create a new future for how we get goods to people around the world.”
Elroy Air unveiled its pre-production Chaparral C1 aircraft earlier this year. The aerial cargo vehicle is a lift-plus-cruise hybrid-electric VTOL that can autonomously pick up 300 to 500 pounds (135 to 225 kilograms) of cargo and deliver it by air up to 300 miles (480 kilometers).
Its turbine-based hybrid-electric powertrain makes the cargo aircraft capable of carrying out long-range flights without the need for additional infrastructure, such as airports or charging stations.
Along with commercial operations, the San Francisco-based eVTOL developer is targeting applications for defense and humanitarian aid, having secured deals with the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program in 2020, as well as AYR Logistics last year. Elroy also expanded its commercial air cargo market earlier this year through a partnership with Mesa Airlines.
Elroy Air and FedEx said they have been working together since January 2020. This announcement is the latest initiative from FedEx in its effort to adopt emerging technologies across its networks.
“FedEx was built on innovation and we are always looking toward new technologies to help enhance the logistics industry through improved safety, efficiency, and customer service,” said Joe Stephens, senior vice president of global planning, engineering and technology at FedEx Express. “We look forward to continued testing and learning throughout our collaboration with Elroy Air.”