Irish drone delivery start-up Manna Drone Delivery plans to expand into the US later this year, with a wider launch in Europe in 2023.
Founded by former CarTrawler executive Bobby Healy, the company also plans to develop a new manufacturing facility and delivery site in a large Dublin suburb with a market of 100,000 people.
Manna, which has raised nearly €30 million in funding over the past three years and is widely credited as a leader in the European drone delivery industry, is currently only authorized for test deliveries in limited areas with human observers for each flight. However, new regulations across Europe next year will allow companies to operate drones “out of sight” commercially, opening the door for companies like Manna to expand their offerings without the constraint of human visual observers for each flight.
The company, which currently has 103 employees and announced earlier this year that it would hire a team of up to 50 more people, hopes to use these relaxed rules for commercial drone operations in the future.
Manna CEO Healy said he believes drone deliveries will become a routine part of everyday life in the near future, with thousands of trips taking place across cities every day.
“Expanding the ministry of Manna at home and abroad
has always been part of our strategy,” he said. “We are pleased that this is being achieved. Expanding into the US and across Europe in 2022 and 2023, while also providing drone deliveries to another major Dublin suburb and the addition of another manufacturing facility, demonstrates our rapid growth plans and commitment to our mission.”
Manna drones currently deliver small items such as coffee, fast food, small groceries and pharmacy products as long as the total weight is under 2kg and fits in a shoebox.
Promising delivery in less than five minutes to addresses within a 2km radius of its base, the drone hovers outside the delivery address and releases a thread with the item attached. When the item is close to the ground, the thread will detach and the drone will return to base. Deliveries work in wind and no daylight, but not in heavy rain.
The company has completed 100,000 such test flights in Ireland, starting at Oranmore in Co Galway, before moving its test delivery operations to Moneygall, County Offaly. Last year it moved test operations to Balbriggan in County Dublin, a local market of around 25,000 people.
It is currently delivering small takeaway packages in this area from outlets such as Tesco, Subway, pharmacies and coffee shops.
The drones typically fly at a height of between 50 and 80 meters and at a speed of over 60 km/h.
Mr Healy declined to give the location of the nearest test delivery point.
Safety and other regulatory issues for drones are overseen by the European Union Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) and the Irish Aviation Authority.
Several research reports in recent months suggest that drone deliveries have a lower environmental impact per package than cars, vans and motorcycles, and are roughly on par with electric bikes.
https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/manna-to-expand-dublin-drone-deliveries-with-new-launches-in-us-and-europe-41903650.html Manna expands Dublin drone deliveries with new product launches in US and Europe