On August 14, a 1,215-pound drone left the asphalt at an airbase in Camp Roberts, California. It reached a height of 10 feet, lingered for 64 seconds and then landed. It was the first successful test flight for Elroy Air, a San Francisco startup that wants to launch its heavy cargo drones and deliver a higher than average payload by 2020.
It is a modest start to what could eventually become a trillion-dollar enterprise if you think the analysts who believe that autonomous delivery of drones – especially drone delivery – can disrupt the logistics industry. Elroy is one of the handful of startups that focus on vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VTOL), but for air delivery instead of air taxis and flying cars.
Elroy also distinguishes itself from the collection of companies that test delivery drones. Most of the drones tested today are lightweight, medium-sized quadcopters designed to place a single item on a destination. In recent months, Amazon announced plans to drop packages at customers' doors, received Alphabet & # 39; s Wing approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to deliver to the US, and UPS said it tested its own technology by supplying medical supplies to hospitals in Northern Virginia.
Elroy designs drones that are much larger and can carry more cargo over longer distances. The company hopes to use its autonomous Chaparral system for medical supplies, disaster relief and remote military missions. But the company also sees potential in cooperation with FedEx, DHL or UPS for package delivery. The first version of the Chaparral will carry 250 pounds of cargo over a range of 300 miles, the company says.
Here is the video of his first test flight: