FedEx to test middle-mile autonomous cargo drone delivery next year

FedEx and Elroy Air middle mile drone delivery

FedEx says it is joining forces with California-based eVTOL cargo drone manufacturer Elroy Air to explore autonomous solutions within its middle-mile delivery operations. As part of this agreement, FedEx subsidiary FedEx Express will begin testing Elroy Air’s recently announced Chaparral cargo drone in 2023.

As it looks at innovation and automation to improve safety and efficiency, FedEx has been an early advocate for drone deliveries. The parcel delivery giant has been testing drones in its hometown of Memphis since 2018, and has collaborated with companies such as Alphabet subsidiary Wing and London-based Skyports to test last-mile delivery of goods in both the US and the UK.

The Elroy Air partnership, meanwhile, focuses on middle-mile logistics.

The Chaparral cargo drone can autonomously pick up 300-500 pounds of goods and deliver them by air up to 300 miles. The drone caught FedEx’s attention because it is capable of longer-range flights without the need for additional infrastructure, such as airports or charging stations.

Joe Stephens, senior vice president, global planning, engineering, and technology at FedEx Express, says:

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.

Explaining that their companies first got together in 2020 to build the next generation of express logistics, Kofi Asante, Elroy Air’s VP of business development and strategy, adds:

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.

Read more: German drone delivery firm Wingcopter deepens roots in Japan with new investor ITOCHU

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