Drones

MightyFly Will Demo Drone Supply of 100 Kilos in Cargo: The Way forward for Specific Supply

MightyFly makes a long-range, autonomous cargo drone that can carry more than 100 pounds in cargo – a development that could revolutionize express delivery shipments for a wide range of industries.

The following is a guest post by Single Seat Consulting founder, Bill Johnson. DRONELIFE neither makes nor accepts payment for guest posts.

MightyFly Wins $150K Demo Grant to Show Their Tool to Revolutionize Logistics

By Bill Johnson

MightyFly, a manufacturer and operator of long-range, autonomous, hybrid electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) cargo aircraft, announced in a June 28, 2023 press release the award of a $150,000 grant on May 30, 2023 from the Michigan Mobility Funding Program. Under the terms of the grant, MightyFly will perform the first public demonstration of an autonomous, fixed-wing eVTOL aircraft showcasing 100 pounds of cargo deliveries.

Supported by the Michigan Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME), these demonstration flights will provide MightyFly the chance to showcase 100 pounds of autonomous cargo delivery. In this way, MightyFly expects to provide prospective customers with tangible evidence of their express delivery solutions that will bring new logistics opportunities to businesses.

As detailed in the press release, the logistics needs of Michigan’s manufacturing, automotive, logistics, retail, chemical and pharmaceutical industries offer the ideal scenario for MightyFly to demonstrate a new way to ship products, parts, supplies and various goods. These Michigan businesses need express logistics, with fast, efficient, and affordable same-day shipping services. MightyFly sees their one-shot business-to-business (B2B) delivery services as providing cost savings for just-in-time manufacturing lines, timely delivery of crucial shipments for medical treatments, and quick replacements of fast-moving consumer goods to retailers.

MightyFly CEO, Manal Habib explained in a recent interview, the demonstration flights are scheduled to occur over a two-week period and plan to conduct autonomous point-to-point flights that highlight several important use cases of particular interest to the expected customer base. “We are going to demonstrate full autonomous flight from takeoff to cruise flight to landing, while demonstrating a variety of cargo deliveries. This will be the first entry [of a large autonomous fixed-wing eVTOL] into the market. We will be demonstrating to our future customers what we can serve them, how much better it is and how much more convenient it is. Most times, convenience is priceless!”

Habib sees Michigan as a prime location to demonstrate this capability. For her, Michigan is expanding their industrial base into Advanced Air Mobility while also being very supportive of start-ups like MightyFly. “Michigan is currently putting a lot of effort into entering the Advanced Air Mobility market. Having been in the transportation sector and seeing the track transportation is moving on, it only makes sense to enter the aviation market. To that end, they are doing a lot to attract many start-ups.”

She also noted the state is working to both support their long-standing automotive industry and move towards the future of mobility, “There is currently a pretty big need in the hardware industry for affordable same-day delivery services to keep their just-in- time manufacturing working. This goes beyond manufacturing, to retail and other businesses as well, but what stands out about Michigan is the automotive industry and how the government right now is trying to back aviation to both help the automotive industry and make sure that Michigan is going to be part of the future, and the future is in aviation.”

The press release explains the grant program is managed by the OFME as part of a statewide strategy to ensure Michigan remains the global leader in the future of mobility, electrification policy and innovation. The program was launched by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to catalyze and scale new mobility solutions that improve environmental sustainability by encouraging EV adoption and charging infrastructure buildout, increasing access to affordable and reliable transportation options and modernizing existing transportation systems for Michiganders. The OFME has previously partnered with the Michigan Unmanned Aerial Systems Consortium (MUASC) to facilitate testing of autonomous aircraft in Michigan. The OFME works across state government, regulators, academia and private industry to build a robust ecosystem of partners capable of leading the adoption and use of transformative mobility solutions like that of MightyFly.

“We know the future of mobility is more than just vehicles – it is on air, land and sea,” said Charlie Tyson, Technology Activation Manager, OFME. “Michigan is uniquely positioned to support testing, development, and deployment of new technologies that will lead to more affordable, accessible transportation solutions and we are excited to support MightyFly through the MMFP program and their continued efforts to grow in Michigan.”

Habib’s enthusiasm for the opportunity to demonstrate their aircrafts capability is obvious in the press release statement, “We are excited to be the first large, autonomous, fixed-wing eVTOL cargo delivery company to demonstrate how autonomous aerial expedited logistics solutions will better serve Michiganders. This demonstration will be the first stepping stone for the efficient flow of goods across the world, making it possible for everyone to access reliable and affordable same-day deliveries. We will be making history!”

The vision for MightyFly continues after these demonstrations that will be performed under their FAA special airworthiness certificate. In addition to this project, MightyFly is currently scoping and planning proof of concept (POCs) trials with partners throughout 2024 and 2025. Habib says they are working closely with the FAA towards the ultimate goal of a Part 135 approval in conjunction with a type and Manufacturing certification to operate as a logistics service provider.

MightyFly’s current facility, that has manufactured the R&D aircraft, will be able to produce multiple 3rd generation production aircraft. However, as they scale their operations, they are open to expanding with other options. As Habib stated: “We currently developed full capability to manufacture in-house. This enables us to move quickly, because once you have everything in-house, you can, especially in the R&D phases, churn through the development of aircraft quickly.”

MightyFly sees their vehicle as having the three critical elements needed to solve the just-in-time logistics problem faced by hardware manufacturers. First is autonomy and the cost savings it will provide operators. Habib points out, “Aircraft that are electric but are not autonomous, have a big disadvantage because they still have to pay for labor. And this is the biggest cost factor in logistics.”

For Habib, just as important, the ability to take off and land vertically provides the necessary convenience and time savings that will support just-in-time operations. She is adamant on this point, “If you are really looking to provide these hourly, convenient solutions, you need to have a one-shot delivery from source to destination. If you have to do a first step, go to the airport, unload and load, and do a second step from airport to airport, then a third step. Now we have three stages and each have loading and unloading. Forget about convenience and hourly, because now you are at a day or more . So there is a huge disadvantage when these aircraft don’t couple autonomy and eVTOL.

The final element is economy of scale. MightyFly promotes its third-generation autonomous cargo aircraft as having a 100 pound cargo capacity and a 6 ft by 19 inch by 18 inch cargo bay, capable of carrying up to 212 small USPS packages.

For Habib, smaller, single package delivery drones just can’t compete. “There are a lot of the small but the small ones really lose the economy of scale. If you only carry one package, it’s like FEDEX or UPS working on motorcycles.”

The aerial logistics market appears to be very competitive. But in her eyes, Habib sees MightyFly in a good position. “When you get technology like ours, it unlocks a gigantic market,” she says. Adding, “So you really want to bring the economy of scale, with autonomy and eVTOL aspects, with long range into one solution. Actually, there are very, very few players putting all those advantages together. If anything, the market can use more of them.”

With this grant and the subsequent demonstrations, it looks like MightyFly is well on the way to being among those very few.

Bill Johnson is the Founder of Single Seat Consulting LLC providing companies working in the DoD R&D and Advanced Air Mobility market with strategic, operations and business opportunity advice. He was a career Naval Aviator, Senior Director for Northrop Grumman Mission Systems and currently serves as the Emerging Aviation Technology Advisor to Women and Drones. He graduated with a BS in Aerospace Engineering from the US Naval Academy, and MBA from Florida Institute of Technology and an MA in National Security and Strategic Studies from the US Naval War College.

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.

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