FedEx Express has partnered with air cargo logistics company Elroy Air to test the latter’s autonomous drone cargo system within its middle-mile logistics operations.
Elroy Air’s Chaparral is an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aerial cargo system that can autonomously pick up 136-227kg of cargo and deliver it by air up to 480km. The Chaparral is capable of longer-range flights without the need for additional infrastructure such as airports and charging stations.
This trial will involve FedEx Express moving shipments between sortation locations. FedEx and Elroy Air have been working together since January 2020 and will continue their collaboration to pursue certifications and begin flight testing in 2023. FedEx took on this trial in response to the exponential growth in e-commerce and the accelerated demand for reliable, efficient transportation and logistics solutions throughout the supply chain.
Joe Stephens, senior vice president of global planning, engineering and technology at FedEx Express, said, “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. We look forward to continued testing and learning throughout our collaboration with Elroy Air.”
Kofi Asante, vice president of business development and strategy at Elroy Air, added, “We are proud to work with FedEx to build the next generation of express logistics. 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.”