Israeli drone logistics company Flytrex has teamed up with the North Carolina state government to participate in a groundbreaking Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilot program that will bring Flytrex’s food-delivery drone technology closer to rollout in the United States.
The FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program pairs up state and local governments with private companies in order to accelerate the safe deployment of drones above America. The program is intended to help the US Department of Transportation and the FAA craft new rules that allow more complex low-altitude operations.
It’s a significant step for Flytrex, whose CEO Yariv Bash last year told ISRAEL21c that he expected Flytrex would first expand into Africa or Eastern Europe because the FAA was working on a universal air-traffic management system for drones that would only be completed in 2020.
Now that Flytrex is part of the FAA pilot program, the sky may soon be the limit for retail-to-your-door deliveries of everything from toothpaste to sushi. While Bash readily admits that Amazon will undoubtedly own the biggest chunk of the drone delivery business, “if we can have a fraction of the rest of the market,” it will still be a very profitable business.
“This is a breakthrough moment for drone deliveries, the start of an exciting new era,” Bash told ISRAEL21c. “Commercial drones represent a far safer, cheaper, faster and eco-friendly mode of transportation than existing delivery options, and this stamp of approval from the FAA is an invaluable stepping stone to getting widespread drone delivery off the ground.”
In 2017, Flytrex began a pilot program with UkrPoshta, the Ukrainian Postal Service, to deliver packages weighing up to 3 kilograms as far as 23 kilometers round-trip at speeds of up to 70 kilometers per hour. Flytrex also conducted a test with a pharmaceutical company in Africa to deliver drugs to users in hard-to-access locations.
Flytrex doesn’t manufacture drones. Rather, it has created a cloud-based back end that allows customers to operate an entire fleet of drones remotely. Think of Flytrex as the FedEx of the drone-delivery world; FedEx doesn’t manufacture trucks or planes but provides the software and human infrastructure to make the most of existing tools.