The logistics giant is starting a pilot project with a startup to test autonomous air parcel delivery. Just announced, but not expected to start until sometime next year, FedEx is partnering with aircraft manufacturer Elroy Air to explore how unmanned drones can help improve logistics processes.
The startup’s deployment vehicle is a hybrid-electric-powered vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft that is planned to deliver packages between FedEx Express distribution centres. In other words, it’s not as if one of these drones will land in customers’ backyards. Test flights of the Chaparral are expected to begin in mid-2023. But the two companies still need to obtain the necessary permits to start work.
The company originally started developing the large drone with a focus on air taxi services, but for the time being it seems more feasible to deploy it in the logistics field. The drone can handle over 200 kilos of cargo and has a range of nearly 500 kilometres.
The aircraft was only officially announced in January this year, but a prototype of the aircraft has already successfully completed a hover test with a full load in 2019.