Cargo Delivery Drones Could Drastically Impact the Middle Mile

Drones in America’s Grant Guillot first met Kofi Asante, VP of Strategy & Business Development with Elroy Air, at Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas during a keynote panel on drone delivery. Elroy Air’s involvement with drone cargo delivery services is an area that is worth a deeper dive, so Guillot was thrilled to have Asante on the program to provide additional details on the subject.

Elroy Air, based in San Francisco, CA, is developing a dual-use autonomous VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) system that can deliver 300-500lb cargo loads over a 300-mile range. Asante mentioned Elroy Air is working with the Airforce and Navy on this project. The hope is this aircraft will provide critical support in humanitarian efforts and other commercial and defense applications.

“Remote operations are going to places with challenging infrastructure, whether it be highlands or rural environments that don’t have reliable roadways,” Asante said of some of the advantages of deploying this type of VTOL system to move cargo.

This technology can potentially change freight and logistics operations and got Guillot thinking of a futuristic conveyor belt in the sky. So, how does this futuristic vision stack up with reality? Asante said it isn’t as far off as one might think.

“Something unique to our aircraft is we have a cargo pod that’s decoupled from the aircraft,” Asante said. “You can think about this very similar to how it works in trucking where there’s something called drop freight where you can have a trailer that’s loaded ahead of time and then power unit big rig can come attached to it. That’s what we want to develop for the sky as well.”

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