Cargo drone achieves first flight

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Calfornia-based startup Elroy Air has successfully completed the first full-scale system flight test, of its Chaparral unmanned cargo drone.

The 1215 lb VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) prototype reached a height of 10ft and hovered for 64 seconds before landing safely. The test, which took place on August 14, 2019 was remotely piloted by the company’s lead test pilot.

David Merrill, CEO of Elroy Air, “Autonomous VTOL cargo systems will make the dream of ultra-responsive logistics possible, because they decouple air cargo from airports. These large cargo systems are about to become mainstream, and the Elroy Air team is leading the industry with our development of the Chaparral aerial cargo system.”

Elroy Air’s unmanned aerial system design features a hybrid-electric powertrain to enable long range deliveries. The transitioning VTOL aircraft has separate vertical and cruise flight lift systems and aims to be capable of carrying 250 lb of cargo over a 300 mile range.

It also features automation in its cargo-handling for rapid and unattended loading and unloading.

Following the successful first fight, the team will focus on additional testing, including autonomy, transitions and forward flight.and hybrid-electric powertrain for long-range flight capabilities.

Kofi Asante, head of strategy and business development at Elroy Air said, “The development is a response to a global pilot shortage and growing demand for more flexible and rapid logistics across all traffic and terrain scenarios on the ground. Autonomous air cargo transportation has the ability to improve the quality of life globally by increasing access to time-sensitive critical supplies.“

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 16 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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