THELASTMILE Logistics Outside the Box
The latest drone innovations include wind farm duty, last-mile stints, and an end-to-end middle-mile cargo system.
END-TO-END AIR CARGO SYSTEM California Bay Area- based Elroy Air is building the first end-to- end autonomous vertical take-off and landing aerial
LAST-MILE HIGH Last-mile drone delivery in the United States is gaining ground. Two drone companies—Israel firm Flytrex and Alphabet subsidiary Wing —have both recently launched drone delivery services in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Flytrex started operating outside of Granbury, Texas, while Wing added two towns—Frisco and Little Elm—in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Using an app, customers can select small items, from first- aid kits to baked goods from the drone makers’ retail partners, for delivery to their homes. The Flytrex drones can carry up to 6.6 pounds (say, a family dinner of burgers and drinks) while Wing’s drones can carry up to 3.3 pounds (e.g. over-the-counter medicine from its largest U.S. customer, Walgreens Boots Alliance).
SAILING INTO THE WIND German drone manufacturer Wingcopter signed a deal for its aircraft to be used in offshore deliveries. The Zeitfracht Group and its subsidiary German Airways ordered 17 Wingcopter delivery drones and signed an option to purchase another 115 until 2023. The aircraft will take flight in 2024, delivering spare parts to wind farms. German Airways selected the aircraft because of its wind- and weather resistance and payload-to-range ratio. Wingcopters can carry a payload of up to 11 pounds, covering distances between 46 and 68 miles. Relying on electric propulsion, they take off vertically, without additional infrastructure, and then move forward horizontally in flight like conventional aircraft. cargo system and has a major partner in the endeavor: FedEx Express. FedEx Express will develop plans to test Elroy Air’s Chaparral autonomous air cargo system within the company’s middle-mile logistics operations, moving shipments between sortation locations. FedEx and Elroy Air will begin flight testing in 2023. Elroy Air launched its Chaparral autonomous aircraft in January 2022. The Chaparral aircraft is an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aerial cargo system that can autonomously pick up 300 to 500 pounds of cargo and deliver it by air up to 300 miles.
Wing, a unit of Google parent Alphabet, started drone deliveries in the Dallas- Fort Worth area on April 7, 2022.
112 Inbound Logistics • April 2022
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