With everyone from FedEx to Ford to Amazon getting in on it, there’s currently a big push to make drone deliveries work. However, when UPS recently did a demo of a residential delivery drone, things went a little wrong on a second lap – signal interference apparently caused the device to fritz out, requiring it to make an immediate emergency landing. Flytrex, a drone delivery specialist, says it can do better, though.
Indeed, following the demo, they issued a release, stating: “Rather than focusing on short-term, one-off stunts, Flytrex’s mission is to facilitate on-demand drone delivery for any business and make it the standard in shipping, rather than the exception – in other words, to ensure that same-day, on-demand air delivery really flies.” Ambitious stuff.
DronePunks connected with the company’s CEO and founder, Yariv Bash, to discuss the challenges and practicalities of making deliveries by drone.
DronePunks: Can you outline how Flytrex operates?
Yariv Bash: Currently, Flytrex customizes drones and provides them along with cloud-based software that enables seamless end-to-end deliveries. We currently operate deliveries for the Ukrainian postal service. Throughout the year, we will be expanding our global operations as we are currently working with regulatory bodies and e-commerce partners in several different countries. Our goal is to provide any business with the full toolkit needed to operate their own on-demand drone deliveries.
DP: Expanding on that, is it envisaged as a B2C or a B2B product?
YB: We offer a B2B platform, providing ready-made, scalable, on-demand drone delivery systems for any sized business, from e-commerce giants to SMBs. We not only provide drones for commercial delivery, but also offer the regulatory support and the backend technological infrastructure necessary for a cost-efficient on-demand delivery system. Because we have developed sophisticated back-end software that makes drone delivery feasible, at scale, Flytrex could very easily integrate into an existing parcel delivery system such as Royal Mail, or with a small clothing store looking to enter the on-demand delivery market. Our focus is on enabling businesses and organizations to enter and compete effectively in the on-demand delivery economy in an efficient, safe and cost-effective manner.
DP: What’s the lifting capacity of the device – the images suggest the payload is something the size of a bottle but not much heavier?
YB: Flytrex drones can carry packages up to 3kg. While we don’t see it delivering refrigerators anytime soon, those items that consumers want in a snap – such as groceries or household items, even clothing – are easily handled. Additionally, unlike other models, our aircraft are incredibly lightweight and easy to load and unload – no engineering degree required to load a package to a Flytrex drone.
DP: Does the device fly autonomously or is it manually controlled?
YB: Our cloud-based drone management system is fully autonomous, leaving only the manual uploading of the package – and that too is set to be automated. Once integrated into the online ordering system of our partners, an operator can handle up to 20 drones at one time, as flight paths and flight operations are all run autonomously.
DP: Do you have the system working in the field? How are you working around line-of-sight rules?
YB: We have had a demo with UkrPoshta [Ukraine Postal Service], and have a number of projects we are working on in Africa and Europe to make drone delivery more accessible. While line-of-sight does pose restrictions, there are many countries where regulators are taking a much more innovative and forward thinking approach. The market need is stronger than ever, and with constant innovation in the space to ensure UAS safety, we believe that it is only a matter of time before regulators get on board with making on-demand drone delivery the standard, not the exception.