Technology

We’re a small Irish company and we’re beating Amazon and Google – within the Irish drone startup’s sky-high success

An Irish tech chief has claimed his Dublin-based startup is “beating Amazon and Google” in the drone delivery game.

Retail giant Amazon recently announced it will launch its first-ever drone delivery service in Lockeford, California, months after the Irish startup did the same in Balbriggan.

Serial entrepreneur Bobby Healy is the mastermind behind Ireland's first drone delivery service

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Serial entrepreneur Bobby Healy is the mastermind behind Ireland’s first drone delivery serviceCredit: Barry Cronin
Manna drones are built in-house and can reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour

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Manna drones are built in-house and can reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hourPhoto credit: Beachhut PR
Bobby founded Manna in 2018 and launched their first delivery service in Oranmore Co. Galway

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Bobby founded Manna in 2018 and launched their first delivery service in Oranmore Co. GalwayPhoto credit: Beachhut PR

Bobby Healy, CEO of MANNA Drone Deliveries, stated that their success is mainly due to three things: a perfect location, overwhelming support and a “strong, hungry team”.

Speaking to the Irish Sun, he said: “First of all, Ireland is the most perfect place in the world for drone delivery research and development.

“If you can fly Ireland’s weather you can fly pretty much anywhere in the world and that has been great for our testing and research.

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“We also have an aviation regulator in the IAA and national and local governments that are very supportive and very pro-business.”

Bord Na Mona has even shown his support for the startup, offering up his disused moorland in Offaly for testing.

Manna has already recorded almost 100,000 test flights in the moorland, giving them “some really invaluable data”.

Most read in The Irish Sun

Bobby added: “The Government likes the idea of ​​a disused bog in Offally becoming the epicenter for one of the largest drone delivery services in the world, which also emits almost zero carbon.

“And after all, we still have the blessing of our aviation authority, so it really is the perfect storm of support from the country you operate in.”

Former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made clear his intent to enter the drone delivery space back in 2013.

However, after nearly a decade and an investment of around $2 billion, the tech titans are still struggling to get their service off the ground.

Established five years later in 2018, Manna launched their service in Oranmore Co. Galway, delivering all manner of goods from coffee to medical supplies via drone which they develop themselves.

Their drones can reach speeds of 60 miles per hour, cruise at altitudes of 260 feet and have a delivery time of just under three minutes.

They’ve even partnered with industry titans like Tesco, Samsung and Coca Cola, as well as a host of local businesses.

The tech startup now has thousands of autonomous deliveries and test flights under its belt, and has launched a full-scale delivery service in Balbriggan, a Dublin suburb of around 35,000 people.

Their 110-strong team at their Balbriggan headquarters also continues to expand, with plans to add 50 more jobs in the region.

HIGH AMBITIONS

The Manna boss assured that their success in Ireland will carry over to the global stage and once they expand they will become “the biggest company Ireland has ever seen”.

He said: “Our delivery service is the greenest and safest way to deliver products and we already know customers love it.

“38 percent of residents in the cities where we operate use our service regularly. Never has a product been as popular as what we are doing right now.”

Manna hasn’t turned a profit yet, but Healy said once they iron out any flaws in their autonomous delivery and are confident enough that they don’t need to monitor their drones as closely, “the deliveries will end up costing us nothing.”

He added: “Because the product is so popular, we know that the more drones we develop, the more money we will make because the demand is there.”

The Rathfarnam man plans to roll out his service to American and European markets as early as this year by 2023, and has his sights firmly set on Amazon and Google airspace.

He said: “It’s caught on by people that we’re a small Irish company and we’re beating Amazon and Google at this game, so it’s a bit of a green jersey moment for sure.

“But we welcome the competition, drone delivery is becoming a gigantic industry and there is a lot of room for it.”

Bobby admitted that Google-owner Alphabet’s drone delivery program Wing is the gold standard.

He said: “These are the guys we look up to but it won’t be long before we’re bigger than them because we’re making more progress.”

The serial entrepreneur’s ambition doesn’t end there, as he plans to become a mainstay for deliveries worldwide.

He said: “Our mission is to make lightning-fast delivery of suburban drones ubiquitous.

“That means we want to be present in every single modern market where delivery is required. Replace 100 percent of road-based delivery around the world.

“Very soon the little guys and local vendors we support, like your local bookstore, will have a more efficient delivery service than Amazon.

“We will change the way people consume products and we will change the way vendors sell their products.

“It’s literally such a big ambition.”

A METHODOLOGICAL PROCESS

Despite their unlimited growth potential, regulation has been a significant hurdle in the drone delivery space, particularly in the United States.

Their FAA regulations are still a step behind their European counterparts, making it difficult to break into the market.

Bobby added that while the possibilities for drone delivery are endless, he is in no hurry to downsize and is committed to ensuring the quality and safety of his product before further expansion.

He said: “You look very stupid in our space if you move too fast, go over the promise or don’t deliver because our game isn’t even really about delivery, it’s about safety.

“We are trying to produce the safest planes in the world because as we expand we will be flying over a million times a day.

“And to do that safely, you can’t just start flying and hope for the best, that’s going to end in tears.

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“Right now we’re still focused on Ireland, on making the product scalable and secure while we learn more about what products people want before we really scale it.

“So we’re moving in a very methodical, process-oriented way.”

https://www.thesun.ie/tech/8943657/were-a-small-irish-company-beating-amazon-google-drones/ We’re a small Irish company and we’re beating Amazon and Google – within the Irish drone startup’s sky-high success

Fry Electronics Team

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