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September 11, 2019 5:30 PM, EDT

North American Drone Companies Ready to Buzz

Flirtey Inc. drone A Flirtey Inc. drone. (Flirtey Inc.)

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Drone Delivery Canada Corp. has scored its first major client, Vision Profile Extrusions Ltd., a manufacturing company that will deploy a delivery platform for the use of drones between its properties in Vaughan, Ontario.

The news comes as North American drone companies step up their plans to make final-mile delivery a regular part of freight movement by 2020. Another company, Reno, Nev.-based Flirtey Inc., told Transport Topics it plans to begin customer deliveries by the end of the year.

Drone Delivery will deploy its takeoff and landing zones as well as additional drone flight infrastructure on Vision’s company sites. It will deploy its Sparrow cargo drone, with a capacity of up to 10 pounds, on defined flight routes between Vision’s properties in Vaughan, Drone Delivery said in a Sept. 10 news release.

The routes have been approved by Transport Canada, a federal regulatory agency.

Drone Delivery Corp. logo

Drone Delivery officials said flights will be remotely monitored by the company from Vision’s commercial operations center, also located in Vaughan. Drone Delivery expects to begin providing delivery services under the agreement late this year, after Vision’s site infrastructure is completed.

Vision will pay Drone Delivery a monthly fee for each drone route, the company said.

Air Canada worked as the sales agent for Drone Delivery, a Toronto-based technology company focused on the design, development and implementation of its logistics software platform, using drones. The company’s platform will be used as a software as a service model for government and corporate organizations globally, according to Drone Delivery.

The company opened its operations center in Toronto on Sept. 5. It is a 16,000-square-foot facility and, at full capacity, will be capable of managing 1,500 drones on behalf of commercial customers globally, Drone Delivery said.

“On average, we anticipate charging customers a licensing fee of $10,000 per drone, per route, per month,” Drone Delivery CEO Michael Zahra said in a statement. “With the high level of technical automation we have achieved with our drones, our patented Flyte system and the operations center, we will lower operating costs, resulting in a high-margin business with predictable monthly reoccurring revenue.”

Flirtey Inc. logo

Meanwhile, another drone company on the other side of the continent plans drone delivery at the end of the year.

Flirtey said its new drone technology combines three products that enable the goal of package delivery to customers’ homes in less than 10 minutes.

Flirtey officials said the Flirtey Eagle, which carries more than twice the payload of average competitors and operates in 95% of weather conditions, uses the Flirtey Portal, which is a takeoff and landing platform that enables drone operations from retail stores across the U.S.

Flirtey officials said the company uses an autonomous software platform, which has Federal Aviation Administration approval for one remote pilot to fly 10 drones. Flirtey said it will start routine drone delivery demonstrations to homes at the end of the year.

The reason for the drone demand is that 53% of the total cost of delivery is the last mile, according to Flirtey officials. Targeted customers include logistics firms, food makers, on-demand delivery businesses, convenience stores and medical-item suppliers.

Company CEO Matthew Sweeny said he expects demand to be more than adequate at first.

“Based on demand from our customers, Flirtey expects demand to outstrip supply initially,” Sweeny told Transport Topics in an email. “Flirtey’s drone delivery system was designed from the outset to meet the anticipated high demand.”