Elroy Air, the company leading the race to develop a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aerial logistics system for middle-mile commercial shipping, humanitarian aid and military resupply, demonstrated the autonomous ground navigation and cargo-handling systems of its Chaparral aircraft for the United States Air Force senior and executive officers as part of the Golden Phoenix Technology Demonstration Event.
During the live demonstration, a developmental prototype of the Chaparral aircraft’s ground systems performed a series of autonomous manoeuvres without the use of GPS, which can be unreliable or jammed in contested environments. Without intervention from operators, the vehicle located and navigated autonomously to a cargo pod inside a hangar from a distance of 20 meters, then used its robotic grasping mechanism to pick the pod up and secure it to the underside of the vehicle. The system then navigated out of the hangar to the takeoff zone.
“We are proud to partner with the United States Air Force and be here today to demonstrate one small part of the Chaparral’s autonomy, and how it will improve mission efficiency and airman performance when operating in a contested, GPS-denied environment,” said Karl Purdy, Director of Federal Programs at Elroy Air. “The Chaparral’s high levels of autonomy enable multi-capable Airmen to accomplish tasks outside of their core AF specialty. Its scalable logistics support to tailorable force packages enables friendly forces to execute from multiple, austere operating locations.”
The Chaparral is a transitioning “lift + cruise” VTOL aircraft with a full carbon composite airframe and a turbine-based hybrid-electric powertrain for long-range mission capabilities. It was designed to fit in a shipping container or C-130 aircraft, enabling it to be quickly shipped and deployed to missions anywhere in the world.
Designed specifically for logistics, Chaparral has unique capabilities for locating, navigating to, picking up, and dropping off Elroy Air’s lightweight, aerodynamic modular cargo pods. The pods are a core element in the Chaparral airborne logistics system — they can be pre-loaded by ground personnel and picked up by the aircraft’s robotic systems before takeoff. At the delivery location, after the system has landed the cargo pod is lowered to the ground and released.
About Elroy Air
Elroy Air is developing industry-first autonomous aircraft systems and software to expand the reach of express shipping to every person on the planet. Building on the powertrain and perception technology enabling the hybrid-electric / autonomous vehicle revolution, its vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) aerial logistics systems can operate outside of airport infrastructure and evolve the possible in commercial air cargo. The company’s solutions will expand delivery locations and reduce timeframes, provide immediate aid and relief in disaster and firefighting situations, as well as rapid autonomous resupply for troops in the field. The company’s headquarters is in South San Francisco, California and it is financed by world-class venture capital firms including Catapult Ventures, Marlinspike Capital, DiamondStream Partners and Shield Capital, strategic investors including Lockheed Martin Ventures, and pioneering angel investors including early Uber executives.
For more information, visit http://elroyair.com