EmbraerX and Elroy Air collaborate on drone delivery systems for booming e-commerce market

EmbraerX, the Brazilian planemaker’s innovation subsidiary, has signed a collaboration agreement with Silicon Valley drone delivery startup Elroy Air for the purpose of developing the unmanned aerial vehicle air cargo market worldwide.

The companies announced their agreement on January 8 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. 

EmbraerX and Elroy Air did not disclose details about the collaboration such as time frame or cost, but say they are already at work together and hope to present results soon.

Antonio Campello, president and chief executive of Embraer, explained to Air Cargo News’ sister title Flight Global: “The objective of this collaboration is to bring Embraer’s 50 years of experience to Elroy Air, and for Elroy Air to bring to Embraer the mindset of a startup.”

“We have a vision of the future that urban air mobility, of people or cargo transport, will bring lots of benefit to society and it is also a huge business opportunity.”

Elroy Air’s VTOL (vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft), the Chaparral, can operate outside of airport infrastructure and carry 250-500 lbs (114-136kg) of cargo over 300 miles (480km). It envisions commercial, humanitarian aid and military missions for the aircraft. It also has a hybrid-electric powertrain, requires no charging stations and loads and unloads cargo autonomously. 

“Elroy is a good cultural fit for us,” Campello added. “They have a bold vision and are proposing something that also has everything to do with our vision of the future.”

Flightplan 2030

In addition to assisting with development of drone hardware, EmbraerX aims to create a dedicated air traffic control (ATC) system for the urban air mobility industry that can accommodate the capacity of the growing e-commerce market. Campello sees Elroy as the perfect partner to do so.

“The simplification and automation of transportation will be important and will led to more demand and more traffic,” Campello said.

Embraer will also bring its expertise in developing these processes and achieving certification to the collaboration with Elroy.

Last year, EmbraerX penned a white paper on traffic management for urban air mobility called FlightPlan 2030. In it, the company put forth ideas about how air traffic management for urban air mobility needs to evolve in order to allow the industry to scale safely.

“We believe an urban traffic management solution must provide shared situation awareness for all stakeholders, enable equitable airspace access, minimise risk, optimise airspace use and provide flexible and adaptable airspace structures,” the report comments. “Our solution prioritises a procedures-based approach toward growing UAM operations while minimising impacts on air traffic control.”

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