Many leading logistics companies are focusing on last mile solutions, with small drones being designed to drop a single item at nearby a destination. Elroy Air, on the other hand, has developed a hybrid-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft that can carry more than 300 lbs of cargo for up to 300 miles. Its vehicle, named Chaparral, is optimized for the “middle mile” to deliver packages from one distribution center to another center or a commercial business owner.
These longer distances require a communications solution that can maintain links in beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) situations. Being fully autonomous also requires video transmission for safety, so high throughput capabilities are needed.
Elroy Air selected the 900 MHz Smart Radio for its (beyond) line of sight communications. “We have integrated the Smart Radios and have been very happy with them so far. With very minimal additional configuration from the default we are bridging all necessary traffic with plenty of bandwidth overhead headroom,” said Buddy Michini, VP of Software at Elroy Air.
The Smart Radio also provides a number of capabilities that enable future features as Elroy Air’s platform advances. Its peer-to-peer mesh will provide redundancy as the vehicle moves across ground stations and encounters other vehicles flying in parallel. And the Smart Radio’s various form factors give the Elroy Air team flexibility as they build out their infrastructure.
Elroy says its aircraft can have multiple applications, including commercial, military, and humanitarian aid. In terms of commercial use, the aircraft can deliver packages faster than a truck because it avoids car traffic. This idea also applies to humanitarian aid and military use as the plane can “self-deploy” to inaccessible locations.
Added Buddy Michini, “I’m happy to report that the radios worked flawlessly through the test flights that we’ve done on the vehicles so far!”