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Elroy Air,  US company developing an end-to-end autonomous vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aerial cargo system, has unveiled its pre-production Chaparral aircraft. The Chaparral can autonomously pick up 300-500 lbs of cargo and deliver it by air up to 300 miles.

The company has secured agreements for more than 500 aircraft from commercial, defence and humanitarian customers amounting to more than $1 billion in aircraft demand.

Mesa Airlines, an American regional airline operating large fleets on behalf of partners including American Airlines, United Airlines, and DHL, has intent to order 150 aircraft to serve the express parcel and healthcare sectors.

Elroy Air Co-founder and CEO, David Merrill, says: “Today, we are proud to unveil the Chaparral, a first-of-kind autonomous air cargo system that builds on the more than 100 years of American aviation and aircraft development history. The Chaparral is an important part of the future of express logistics. It is built for full end-to-end automation, and it will safely and efficiently make express shipping possible in thousands of new places. It’s a delivery drone that’s faster than ground transport and lower cost than today’s traditional aircraft.”

“We’ve always been at the forefront of aviation technology and we’re proud to be at the cutting-edge of this next chapter in partnership with Elroy Air,” adds Jonathan Ornstein, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Mesa Airlines. “I think one of the reasons why this is a moment to deploy the Chaparral system is that the market really requires it. We’re not even creating a market. We are answering a demand that exists in the market today that is currently unanswered. We are increasingly seeing the demand for same and next-day delivery, but so many rural communities have been cut off from the national transportation system. Pilot shortages and environmental regulations make this even more challenging. With the Chaparral, we’re excited to be able to provide autonomous cargo delivery to help reconnect those communities.”

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Elroy Air‘s headquarters is in South San Francisco, California.

It is financed by venture capital firms including Catapult Ventures, Marlinspike Capital and Prosperity7 Ventures, strategic investors including Lockheed Martin Ventures, and pioneering angel investors including early Uber executives.

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