Earlier this month, Elroy Air successfully flew its autonomous delivery drone. This wasn’t just any drone, as it was several magnitudes more massive than your average pizza delivery bot.
The drone, technically designated as the Chaparral is a VTOL heavy-cargo transport vehicle. By itself, it already weighs more than 1,200 pounds (544 kg), and is about as big as a single-seat human passenger vehicle. But by design, it is capable of carrying 250 pounds (113 kg) of cargo directly under its main fuselage. Its operational radius is rated at somewhere around 300 miles (482 km), and is intended to be commercially used as an express delivery vehicle for various immediate response emergencies much like the very successful Zipline drone fleet in Rwanda.
The very first test, documented on August 14, 2019, involved a brief test flight. During the test, the drone was able to hover around for 64 seconds, and managed to climb at its target height of 10 feet (3 m). The test was able to prove that the prototype design is indeed capable of stable flight, and is worthy of being taken into the next step of its integral design.
Elroy Air was founded in 2016, and is based in San Francisco. The primary goal of the company was to eventually replace land-based delivery trucks with unmanned and autonomous aircraft. To achieve this, they designed drones that are capable of carrying the same amount and type of loads at faster speeds and better delivery response times.
Getting into the drone industry itself via delivery service can be quite predictable as industry tech trends go within the last few years. That being said, the specific objective in getting into the heavy cargo delivery business was quite peculiar. This was perhaps a move to stay away from smaller-scale delivery drones of bigger players such as Amazon, as the budding drone delivery industry gets exponentially bigger in the next few years.
Indeed, as Elroy Air has itself confirmed, the company is eyeing on moving into the regular delivery service industry, by eventually partnering with companies such as DHL, Fedex, or UPS, using the same heavy-duty Chaparral drone.