FedEx will test autonomous drone cargo delivery in 2023

FedEx will test autonomous drone cargo delivery in 2023

Elroy Air’s Chaparral drones can automatically lift 300 to 500 pounds of cargo, dropping it to destinations up to 300 miles away.

Elroy Air’s autonomous, electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) drone will be launched in 2023 for testing as part of a partnership with shipping company FedEx.

Under the agreement, FedEx Express will test Elroy Air’s Chaparral Autonomous Air Cargo system in the company’s mid-mile logistics operations, moving shipments between sorting locations.

The Chaparral, which is capable of long-haul flights without the need for an airport or charging station, can autonomously pick up 300 to 500 pounds of cargo and drop it off at destinations up to 300 miles away.

“FedEx is built on innovation and we are always looking for new technologies to help grow the logistics industry through improved security, efficiency and customer service,” said Joe Stephens, senior vice president of global planning, engineering and technology at FedEx Express. A statement. “We look forward to continuing testing and learning during our collaboration with Elroy Air.”

Elroy Air unveiled the Chaparral in January. At the time, the company said it had contracted for more than 500 aircraft from commercial, defense and humanitarian customers with aircraft demand exceeding 1 billion.

FedEx launched the drone delivery pilot program in 2019 with Alphabet’s Wing. Wing began his own partnership with Walgreens in Virginia that same year. In addition, Walmart, Kroger, and FedEx rival UPS have all already tested drone deliveries.

FedEx executives said in March on the company’s third-quarter earnings call that e-commerce growth in the United States is expected to remain in the mid-to-high single digits for the next three to four years.

“We’re now projecting a compounded annual growth rate of about 8.3% in the e-commerce market,” Brie Carey, FedEx’s chief marketing and communications officer, told analysts. “That calendar year is 2026.”

FedEx’s partnership with Elroy Air began in January 2020.

Sneha Mali

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