Last Wednesday, August 23, 2017 saw the launch of the world's first drone delivery service in Iceland's capital. The drones, which are powered by Tel Aviv, Israel-based drone delivery company Flytrex, made it possible for grocery and restaurant food to reach their destination in just four minutes, rather than the 25 minutes it would have took if you traveled by car in Reykjavik.
“Rejkjavik's unusual topography makes for circuitous routes and lots of traffic jams. We're offering the ultimate solution for delivery,” said Flytrex chief executive officer (CEO) Yariv Bash in an interview with NYPost.com.
With the pilot program called “Sushi in the Skies of Iceland”, one can tell that the initiative was initially geared toward making food deliveries. Flytrex, however, plans to expand its drone delivery services to transporting other consumer products.
Bash said he is proud of winning regulatory approval from Icelandic officials. “Once you demonstrate your system is safe – that you're not using play toys on steroids, they're happy to work with you.”
The company said that multiple deliveries can be done, with one controller flying as many drones as he can at a given a time. The company aims to make 20 deliveries per day and will try to increase this load over the next few weeks.
Flytrex is currently working in tandem with AHA, an Iceland-based online platform for restaurants and retailers. The delivery system works this way: An AHA worker identifies the takeout order at a drone hub which is near the restaurant. The drone then flies the takeout order to a second drone hub, which is located in an area where the customer specified that he wanted his goods to be delivered to.
Once the goods reach that specific hub, a second AHA worker will bike or walk to deliver the product to the customer's doorstep.
Bash, however, said that come 2018, their drones will have the ability to lower deliveries into customers' backyards.
Ever since it partnered with Flytrex, AHA has been enjoying a 60 percent reduction in delivery costs, its officials said.
“In the recent months there has been a tremendous increase in our online delivery orders, especially in the retail products and we are forecasting a very expedited growth in the grocery deliveries in the coming months. Over the last four years, we have been monitoring online delivery solution technologies around the globe, and feel that Flytrex has a smart, safe, and commercially viable solution to the problem,” AHA CEO Maron Kristofferson said.
“We hope to cooperate with them not only in Iceland, but also internationally in the future,” Kristofferson added.
Seattle, Washington-based electronic commerce firm Amazon said it will make upgrades to its PrimeAir drone delivery services by increasing their delivery speed: small packages that weigh up to five pounds will be arriving at their customers' doorsteps within 30 minutes or less from the time that they asked for the item to be delivered.
British regulators approved Amazon's plans of a) flying drones that are no longer seen by their operators within rural and suburban areas, b) having one person operate as many highly automated drones as he can at a single time, and c) conducting tests to make the drones more easily identifiable and give them the ability to avoid obstacles along their flight path.
Amazon's PrimeAir drone made its first delivery in the United States in March 2017. (Related: Feds to mandate nationwide drone registration.)
Bash discounted the Amazon deliveries as covering only small areas in a rural setting, noting that the delivery system was able to move goods in places that are less than half a mile from each other.
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