Amazon and Fedex speed up their tests to deliver small goods by drone

Barcelona, April 5, 2022.- Amazon has agreed with hundreds of Texas consumers the delivery of merchandise weighing just 2 kilograms, its delivery through drones. For its part, Fedex:

The Chaparral uses lightweight cargo pods separate from the aircraft itself and pre-loaded by ground personnel, according to Elroy Air’s website. Pods are picked up autonomously by the aircraft prior to takeoff. This should reduce the workload for FedEx employees and make operations more efficient, Asante said.

“You want to have high utilization so that you’re not spending too much time on the ground,” Asante said. “You want to be able to quickly turn around and go, almost like a conveyor belt through the sky where you just continue to pick up and drop off cargo pods across the way.”

Elroy Air aims to figure out how it can effectively integrate its aircraft into FedEx ramps and stations as seamlessly as possible for testing, according to Asante. This includes determining with FedEx what freight goes on the Chaparral versus other transportation modes, how many aircraft are required per location and flight takeoff and landing details.

Elroy Air has already secured order agreements for more than 500 aircraft with commercial, defense and humanitarian customers, according to a January news release. Mesa Airlines, a regional airline with partners including DHL, United Airlines and American Airlines, intends to order 150 aircraft for express parcel and healthcare delivery.

“We are increasingly seeing the demand for same and next-day delivery, but so many rural communities have been cut off from the national transportation system. Pilot shortages and environmental regulations make this even more challenging,” said Jonathan Ornstein, Mesa Air Group chairman and CEO, in a statement. “With the Chaparral, we’re excited to be able to provide autonomous cargo delivery to help reconnect those communities.”

Rival UPS is also exploring the VTOL space, announcing last year its plans to buy 10 electric VTOLs from Beta Technologies that should begin arriving in 2024. Vertical takeoffs and landings allow small spaces at UPS facilities to transform “into a micro air feeder network,” Beta founder and CEO Kyle Clark said in a news release. Beta’s aircraft has a 1,400-pound cargo capacity and a 250-mile range.

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