Just a day after another startup showed off a video of its first cargo drone flight, a different drone startup has released its own video of its vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aerial cargo UAV.
Elroy Air successfully completed its first full-scale system flight test of its 1,215 lb prototype, which reached a height of 10 ft and hovered for 64 seconds before descending and landing safely. The test was completed earlier this month at McMillan Airfield at Camp Roberts, California, where it was remotely controlled by a test pilot.
Elroy Air’s VTOL drone is a hybrid-electric powertrain, which provides a long range. The cargo handling operation is automated to hasten cargo loading. The company claims it is one of the first to perform a successful flight of a VTOL system at this scale of weight.
The Chaparral drone will eventually be able to carry more than 250 lb of cargo over a distance of 300 miles, the company said. When the drone arrives at a delivery location, the pod is lowered to the ground and released after the system had landed. When the package is deposited, the system can retrieve another pre-packed pod and fly to another destination. Operation can be autonomous or remotely piloted.
Elroy Air is one of a number of startup companies using drones to test how the aircraft might be used for future delivery logistics. Other startups include Flytrex, Drone Delivery Canada, Matternet, Zipline, Workhorse Group and many more. However, large companies are also testing their own services. Parcel delivery giant UPS that is seeking FAA approval for its own service. And other big-name vendors have had their own initiatives, including FedEx, Google’s Wing, Airbus and Amazon. Meanwhile, new methods for delivery may bring additional sources of revenue for companies in this emerging market.