The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) defines a drone as "an aircraft without a human pilot on board, whose flight is controlled either autonomously or under the remote control of a pilot on the ground or in another vehicle." EASA, 2015
According to SESAR, the projected sales of drones in Europe are 200k units in 2025 and 395k units in 2035. Of the latter figure, 150k drones being in agriculture, 70k for delivery, 60k for public safety and security, 10k in the energy sector and 100k in other growth sectors, such as media and mining and construction.
Although drones are in use in many different industries, the fastest development is occurring within the delivery sector. Driven by demand by large multinational companies such as Amazon, DHL and Google.
Using drones for deliveries rather than road vehicles will reduce emissions, save time and the expense of getting a truck on the road to do the same delivery.
Below are a few of the standout Startup pioneers...
Established in 2014, Zipline International is one of the longest established drone delivery companies. They deliver critical and lifesaving products precisely where and when needed, safely and reliably, every day, across multiple countries.
They have made near to 98k deliveries so far.
Zipline's drones and technology used is designed and assembled in South San Francisco, California. But they operate distribution centres around the planet with teams of local operators.
A more recent arrival in the delivery sector is Wingcopter, established in 2017. A German manufacturer of crewless eVTOL fixed-wing aircraft dedicated to improving the lives of people worldwide through meaningful commercial and humanitarian applications. The startup focuses on the delivery of medical goods as well as parcels and food.
Their drones (Wingcopters) far exceed the range and payload capabilities of commercial multi-copter drones. Taking off and landing vertically like multi-copters, Wingcopters fly long distances as efficiently and quickly as fixed-wing aircraft, reaching ranges of up to 75 miles (120 kilometres) and a Guinness world record speed of 150 mph (240 km/h). Even in strong winds of up to 44 mph (70 km/h) or inclement weather, Wingcopters fly autonomously and reliably.
This startup has now secured $22 million in Series A funding and is already in talks with potential investors to join a Series B. With this new investment, they will be able to expand their drone delivery services rapidly.
Tom Plümmer, CEO of Wingcopter, comments: “ This chapter of our journey is dedicated to setting up logistical highways in the sky that leapfrog traditional means of transportation. Poor infrastructure has always been a barrier, especially for healthcare provision, impacting billions of lives - a situation further exacerbated by COVID-19. With the support and powerful networks of our investors, we are taking a huge step closer to fulfilling our vision of creating efficient and sustainable drone solutions that improve and save lives everywhere.”
Founded in 2013, Flirtey were the first registered drone delivery service. Their mission is to save lives and improve lifestyles by making delivery instant for everyone.
They have worked with NASA, Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Remote Area Medical, New Zealand Land Search & Rescue, Domino’s and 7-Eleven to deliver to rural healthcare clinics, ship-to-shore and to consumer homes in the U.S., New Zealand and Australia.
They pioneer the best technology, safety systems and logistics networks showing that drone delivery is the safe and efficient delivery service that consumers and companies demand.
They are not merely a drone company, they are an "aviation company lifting up the existing drone world to aviation standards" says Matthew Sweeny, Co-Founder and CEO of Flirtey. "We have an unparalleled focus on safety, privacy and security – which is why Flirtey has received world-first regulatory permissions in the United States and New Zealand."
Drone delivery options for small parcels are available in some areas now, however Air taxis, cargo delivery drones or unmanned systems for emergencies are just some of the services currently being looked into for future use.
AMU-LED, a newly started SESAR* U-space demonstration project, looks to test various mobility service options over the next two years. With test sites already picked, in three different countries: Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Cranfield in the United Kingdom, and Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
It is hoped that through these tests the project will provide options for us to reduce traffic congestion, accidents, pollution and improve transportation options for people and goods.
Further info here
* The Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) project. Set up in 2004 as the technological pillar of the Single European Sky initiative.