Israeli-based drone delivery company Flytrex will begin making food deliveries in Holly Springs, North Carolina next month.
Flytrex recently made public their FAA approval for these drone deliveries, which they secured along with partner Causey Aviation Unmanned, Inc. (CAU).
The news about the N.C. commercial delivery program comes on the heels of NUAIR’s (Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research) recent validation of Flytrex’s self-triggered parachute recovery system. The parachute system was created to deploy automatically, allowing the drone to be brought slowly to the ground if it fails and begins falling, thus avoiding potential danger for those on the ground.
Regulation is crucial to the future of widespread drone delivery, both for safe operations and public acceptance, which is why we have been working diligently with the FAA to adhere to the highest standards of safety.
– Yariv Bash, CEO and Co-Founder of Flytrex
The NUAIR validation was made following standards established by the FAA and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and involved 45 functionality tests across five different failure scenarios.
About the Holly Springs Drone Delivery Program
Flytrex drones will be operating on one set delivery route in Holly Springs, with only one departure point and one destination point. To start, all delivery flights will be made within the pilot’s line of sight.
The departure point for the delivery program will be a distribution center at the Holly Springs Towne Center, which has 15 restaurants. The destination will be Ting Park, an outdoor sports and recreation area.
I think it’s really exciting. What we’re talking about is expanding municipal services, and bringing this technology to a town that most people in the country have never heard of before. So it’s really going to put us on the map and put us out there as an innovative and high-tech town, and a growing town.
– Holly Springs’ Assistant Director of Engineering, Aaron Levitt
The distance between the two locations is only about a third of a mile, but takes 24 minutes to drive. According to Flytrex, one of their delivery drones can cover this distance in less than five minutes.
Although the flight path is primarily over unpopulated areas, it will cross over Route 55. This is significant because it means that the FAA is satisfied that Flytrex’s parachute system is reliable enough to meet safety concerns for flying over vehicles.
Watch this video of a Flytrex drone delivery
Flytrex has already been making drone deliveries in Iceland for one year and in North Dakota for almost a year without incident.
That being said, after over a year of deliveries the Swiss Post recently halted Matternet’s medical drone delivery program following a crash in which the drone’s parachute cord was cut by the drone’s props, causing it to fall to the ground despite the precautionary steps that had been taken to avoid such an incident.
North Carolina Helping Push the Drone Industry Forward
North Carolina has been a leader in the drone industry for some time now.
Their drone laws are robust, and include the establishment of three different categories of operators—recreational, commercial, and governmental—adding a third category to the two the FAA recognizes under the Part 107 rules (i.e., recreational and commercial drone pilots).
In addition to passing the FAA’s Part 107 test, both commercial and governmental drone pilots in North Carolina must pass the NCDOT (North Carolina Department of Transportation) knowledge test and apply for a permit in order to operate within the state.
North Carolina has also been leading the charge when it comes to innovation.
In 2018, the state was made one of the ten UAS IPP (UAS Integration Pilot Program) winners. Since then, N.C. IPP partners Matternet, UPS, and reportedly Zipline have all been awarded FAA approval to conduct medical drone deliveries.
[The UAS IPP is a program created by the federal government to test various drone operations generally prohibited by the FAA’s Part 107 rules. Learn more about the ten UAS IPP sites here.]
Flytrex’s FAA approval to begin making drone deliveries in Holly Springs is also the result of their partnership with North Carolina’s IPP.
One thing that’s really interesting about the Holly Springs [drone delivery program] is how similar food delivery and medical equipment delivery is. You have to keep things level and secure and at a certain temperature, they have to get there within a certain amount of time. By using food and medical supplies, we’re testing the same types of operations.
– James Pearce, North Carolina Department of Transportation Aviation Spokesperson
What do you think—are you excited about Flytrex’s new drone delivery program in North Carolina? Share your thoughts and opinions in this thread on the UAV Coach community forum.