The world’s largest air cargo company, FedEx Express announced on Wednesday that it will begin testing eVTOL drone cargo transport in 2023.
The project will be carried out by FedEx in partnership with Elroy Air, a California-based company that is developing the “Chaparral”, an unmanned multi-engine aircraft designed to transport cargo. According to the manufacturer, the vehicle is designed to fly autonomously with up to 230 kg of payload over 500 km of distance.
“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, global planning, engineering and technology, FedEx Express. “We look forward to continued testing and learning throughout our collaboration with Elroy Air.”
The first phase of testing with the Chaparral drone will take place with logistical operations within a radius of 500 meters, moving shipments of goods between sorting points. The North American cargo company says the project is an “effort to explore and adopt emerging technologies in its networks”.
Elroy Air stated that the drone operation can be simplified and cost-effective as the aircraft does not require additional infrastructure such as airports and charging stations.
“We are proud to work with FedEx to build the next generation of express logistics,” said Kofi Asante, Elroy Air’s VP 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.”
The partnership between FedEx and Elroy Air began in 2020 and in January the company presented The Chaparral aircraft, aerial cargo system that can autonomously pick up 300-500 pounds of cargo and deliver it by air up to 300 miles.