Under the agreement, FedEx Express will test Elroy Air’s Chaparral autonomous air cargo system within the company’s middle-mile logistics operations, moving shipments between sorting locations.
Chaparrall, which is capable of longer-range flights without the need for airports or charging stations, can autonomously pick up between 300 and 500 pounds of cargo and drop it off at destinations up to 300 miles away.
"FedEx was built on innovation, and we are always looking toward new technologies to help enhance the logistics industry through improved safety, efficiency and customer service," Joe Stephens, FedEx Express' senior vice president of global planning, engineering and technology, said in a statement. "We look forward to continued testing and learning throughout our collaboration with Elroy Air."
Elroy Air unveiled Chaparral in January. At the time, the company said it had secured agreements for more than 500 aircraft from commercial, defense and humanitarian customers amounting to more than $1 billion in aircraft demand.
FedEx launched a drone delivery pilot program with Alphabet's Wing in 2019. Wing went on to launch its own partnership with Walgreens in Virginia that same year. In addition, Walmart, Kroger and FedEx rival UPS have all previously tested drone delivery.
|WBA||WALGREENS BOOTS ALLIANCE INC.||41.65||+0.76||+1.86%|
|UPS||UNITED PARCEL SERVICE INC.||183.61||+4.97||+2.78%|
|KR||THE KROGER CO.||48.40||+0.83||+1.74%|
FedEx executives said on the company's third-quarter earnings call in March that it expects e-commerce growth in the United States to be in the mid-to-high single digits for the next three to four years.
"We're now projecting about 8.3% compound annual growth rate in an e-commerce market," FedEx Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Brie Carere told analysts. "That's to calendar year 2026."
FedEx's partnership with Elroy Air began in January 2020.