San Francisco-based cargo drone manufacturer Elroy Air has inked a deal with humanitarian logistics and transportation company Ayr Logistics to develop an autonomous aerial freight system tailored for aid deliveries.
The pairing will combine the humanitarian-focused activities of both companies, involving – among other things – Ayr agreeing to purchase up to 100 Elroy Air Chaparral cargo drones. Their mutual objective is to operate end-to-end, autonomous UAV logistics and delivery networks of humanitarian aid, with Ayr filling the role of vehicle owner and operator.
Central to their cooperation is the vertical takeoff and landing Chaparral, a hybrid drone capable of carrying 300 lbs. to 500 lbs. of freight for up to 300 miles. The craft is part of Elroy Air’s integrated, high-throughput autonomous aerial logistics system, and can takeoff, land, off-load, and take on payloads quickly with no operator interaction.
The UAV is designed to transport its cargo in lightweight, aerodynamic modular cargo pods that are prepared by ground personnel and picked up by the aircraft itself before takeoff. Delivery is also autonomous, with the pods being lowered to the ground after the drone’s landing. That self-operating system makes the Chaparral what Elroy calls a “bidirectional conveyor belt through the sky.”
Those characteristics also make the drone an ideal match to Ayr’s operational needs, says company CEO Serge Sergeef.
“Our aircraft need to operate in incredibly challenging and austere conditions, frequently without basic airport infrastructure, so we are very particular about the equipment we use,” he noted. “We need highly efficient and cost-effective aircraft with excellent dispatch reliability that provide 24-hour, all-weather operations and perform vertical takeoff and landing with pinpoint accuracy. We believe Elroy Air will provide us with that capability.”
The drone will be operated by Ayr as part of its continuing 20 years of work providing logistics support to actors in the humanitarian community, including the United Nations, World Food Programme, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Assisting the company in that marks a major accomplishment for Elroy in its own efforts to keep aid moving quickly and efficiently to people needing it.
“The humanitarian deliveries that AYR Logistics performs represent some of the most important, and challenging logistics work in the world,” says Elroy Air cofounder and CEO David Merrill. “We are honored to have the opportunity to partner with the AYR team and to provide them with a new modality of safe, reliable aerial delivery for any environment. It’s an ideal deployment for our Chaparral systems with a world-class partner.”