FedEx to test Elroy autonomous drones

  • April 4, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

FedEx plans to test autonomous drone cargo delivery in partnership with California-based Elroy Air.

Elroy Air is building an end-to-end autonomous vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aerial cargo system.

As a first of its kind agreement in the USA, FedEx Express will develop plans to test Elroy Air’s Chaparral autonomous air cargo system within the company’s middle-kilometre logistics operations, moving shipments between sortation locations. This is the latest initiative from FedEx in its effort to explore and adopt emerging technologies across its networks.

The exponential growth of ecommerce has accelerated the demand for reliable, efficient transportation and logistics throughout all stages of the supply chain. FedEx believes continued innovation and automation will improve safety, efficiency and productivity for the company’s 600,000 employees.

“FedEx was built on innovation and we are always looking towards new technologies to help enhance the logistics industry through improved safety, efficiency and customer service,” said Joe Stephens, senior vice president at FedEx Express. “We look forward to continued testing and learning throughout our collaboration with Elroy Air.”

Elroy Air announced its signature Chaparral autonomous aircraft in January this year. The aircraft is an eVTOL aerial cargo system that can autonomously pick up 130 to 230kg of cargo and deliver it by air up to 480km. It is capable of longer-range flights without the need for additional infrastructure, such as airports or charging stations.

“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. “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.”

FedEx and Elroy Air have been working together since 2020 and will continue their collaboration to pursue certifications and begin flight testing in 2023.