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Thursday, 29 September 2022

Drone delivery will fly in suburbs first

Drone delivery will fly in suburbs first

Manna Delivery, a drone delivery company, has been delivering to the suburbs of Dublin for the past two years. The company had to get creative to comply with the stricter regulations for flying and operation drones, but thanks to permission from the HSE, the public health department and the regulator they could start operating. The company is now operating in the suburbs of Ireland and is planning to expand its services to other countries. Amsterdam Drone Week spoke to Bobby Healy, founder of Manna Delivery, about his drone delivery service. Healy says that the advantages of drone delivery will show up in the suburbs and that they have been in talks with the HSE to make sure they are in compliance with all the regulations.

Drone delivery in cities or suburbs?

Most people picture New York, London or San Francisco when they think of drone delivery. Bobby Healy explains that this is not going to become a reality anytime soon, as drone delivery in high-density areas is very demanding. “You can think about it from a technical point of view, flying a small aircraft under the roofline next to a tall building will be quite difficult. As well as the fact that you need a flat space of two diameters to enable delivery, which in an urban densely populated area is hard to find. Drone delivery will therefore start in the high-density and medium-density suburbs.”
“Another reason is that the existing delivery platforms are already doing a pretty good job in very densely urban locations. The advantages of drones are not as great in highly populated urban areas. In many suburbs, you cannot get any kind of delivery, it is nearly impossible to make delivery profitable with the road and delivery riders. Therefore, I think drones will make a tremendous difference in the suburbs and that is also where Manna Delivery will first start.”

How did you start flying?

“We were the first people ready to do trials at the University of Dublin. Pretty soon after that came COVID, the first lockdown, but luckily we got permission from the HSE, the public health department and the regulator to start operating. We started building on these tests and starting building trust with the regulator. We based our consents on the SORA framework which made sure that we had a very good structured way of describing our operation. An Interesting matter is that regulation is not so black and white, it is about building trust. We show all our data hand in hand with the regulator, so it's really a good way for both sides of the equation to learn as an operator and for the regulator to learn what fits the purpose of regulation. In Ireland, we are working with the IAA and fortunately they are keen to help. Manna Delivery has now been live for more than two years and it is really a great use case for what we do and that’s the story on how we started flying.”

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