Flytrex — an Israeli drone logistics company — claims to be the “first ever drone delivery system deployed in an urban environment.”
More like one of the first.
Amazon made its first autonomous drone delivery — an order for an Amazon Fire TV streaming device and a bag of popcorn — to a shopper in the United Kingdom in December. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos also owns The Washington Post.) An Estonian company is also testing a drone delivery system for cold drinks.
That said, Flytrex was recently granted permission by the civil aviation authority in Iceland to make commercial drone flights. To satisfy its customers’ cravings, they’ve partnered with AHA, an online marketplace that offers deliveries for restaurants and grocery stores lacking the resources for selling their food online.
“The delivery infrastructure will totally change shopping as we know it today,” AHA chief executive Maron Kristofersson said in an video produced by the company. “Now that we have seen this system in operation we realize that the most important part is the aviation safety and the autonomous control of the drone.”
Flytrex and AHA are using a hexacopter (a modified DJI Matrice 600) to deliver food orders. Videos show the drones being controlled by a human via a smartphone, which means they’re not fully autonomous.
The drones have a cargo compartment about the size of a mailbox that can transport packages up to 6.5 pounds a distance of six miles, according to Flytrex. The weight restrictions probably pose no problems for the hamburgers, sandwiches and snack food that make up much of the daily restaurant deals available on AHA’s website.
Kristofersson said Flytrex’s drone system operates alongside AHA’s traditional delivery network, but drone delivery offers at least one significant advantage: time.
“If you look at our city, it’s full of bays and difficult traffic routes. Delivery from point A to B — even though it might only be two kilometers [about one mile] by air — might mean that you have to drive seven kilometers [about four miles] and it could take you up to 20 minutes to drive that distance,” he said. “For that particular route, I think we can save 20 minutes of work per delivery, and … that means a huge benefit for us.”